Key findings from the research:
- Increased among ex-smokers.
Remained the same among current smokers.
- Remained extremely rare among never-smokers.
- Main reason for vaping was given as ‘to stop smoking completely’ by 48% of respondents and ‘to prevent them from relapsing to smoking’ by a further 38%.
The report highlights that “there has been a growing false belief that electronic cigarettes could be as harmful as smoking.” There has been a seven percent rise (to 22% of the general population) in the perception that electronic cigarettes are as harmful or more harmful than smoking. Worse, smokers who have never vaped have also bought into the lies and 22% of them also believe that ecigs present a real danger comparable to smoking.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH said: “The number of ex-smokers who are staying off tobacco by using electronic cigarettes is growing, showing just what value they can have. But the number of people who wrongly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking is worrying. The growth of this false perception risks discouraging many smokers from using electronic cigarettes to quit and keep them smoking instead which would be bad for their health and the health of those around them.”
Dr Leonie Brose, Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London said: “We must clearly communicate the relative safety of electronic cigarettes to smokers. The proven harm of tobacco is currently getting less coverage than the much smaller and far less certain harm from electronic cigarettes. We owe it to smokers to provide them with accurate information.”
Dr Nick Hopkinson, Honorary Medical Adviser to the British Lung Foundation, said: “Smoking-related diseases kill 100,000 people in the UK every year. E-cigarettes are certainly far less harmful than normal cigarettes, so if people can switch completely from smoking tobacco to e-cigarettes that will be an important step to improve their health.”