Skepticism about e-cigarettes on the rise according to a new survey

Skepticism about e-cigarettes on the rise according to a new survey

Americans are undoubtedly more aware of electronic cigarettes, nicotine delivery systems that offer an alternative to traditional tobacco, than they were back in 2009 according to a national survey. However, the belief that ecigs are much safer than combustible smokes is starting to loose ground.

According to a massive study that questioned 3,630 adults, 77%of the attendants have heard of e-cigarettes , much higher than the small 16 percent back in 2009. However, the perception that these devices are truly less hazardous than tobacco products between current tobacco users decreased lightly, from 84% to 65%, possibly showing the existence of some fears about the product. At the same time, while electronic cigarettes have been endorsed as a new way to help smokers kick their habit, this survey indicated simply being aware ecigs' existence and knowing they are less perilous had no actual connection and on someone's decision to kick the habit.

The National Cancer Institute between October 2012 and January 2013 conducted the survey with more than half (58.1%) of the participants being nonsmokers, 22.4% being former smokers, and 18.5% being current smokers. The participants were 50.5% women; 61.6% white, 13.7% Hispanic, 10% black, and all of them older than 18 years.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine under the article ‘E-Cigarette Awareness and Perceived Harmfulness: Prevalence and Associations with Smoking-Cessation and Outcomes’, the researchers being Andy S.L. Tan, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication; and Cabral A. Bigman, Ph.D., and assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Champaign.

Between all individuals who declared they were aware of e-cigs, the groups most likely to believe the devices were less harmful than tobacco cigarettes were younger, better educated, and were current smokers. However, in 2010, 84.7 percent of the smokers surveyed believed electronic cigarettes were less harmful versus the 65 percent of smokers in the current study. The authors stated in a press release that ‘this indicates, perhaps, that skepticism and/or concerns are starting to develop.’

The finding that people (especially middle aged smokers) do not believe electronic cigarettes to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes comes to show that the part of the tobacco control movement who is ideologically opposing vaporizing devices are doing a pretty good job in misinforming the public.

Electronic cigarette use is on the rise in the U.S., with sales around $1.7 billion last year. According to the New York Times, over 5,000 vape shops are now operating in the country. At the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently proposed rules to regulate the industry, including the prohibition of sale to minors.

‘Given the rapidly evolving landscape in advertising and media coverage of e-cigarettes, the first objective of this study is to describe the prevalence of awareness and perceived harmfulness of e-cigarettes’ said Dr. Tan, co-author of the study. 'One key message we were trying to deliver through this paper is that e-cigarettes are no longer a passing fad, and it's no longer a niche tobacco product,' he added.

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