The study, led by Dr Sarah Jackson, was funded by funded by Cancer Research UK and published in BMC Medicine. Using data from the 13,209 participants of Professor Robert West’s Smoking Toolkit Study,
Data was collected between November 2014 and May 2018. Participants were asked is anybody apart from themselves regularly vaped in their presence, if they had made a smoking quit attempt in the twelve months, and to rate their motivation to stop using tobacco products.
The study reports: “Participants who were regularly exposed to e-cigarette use by others were more than twice as likely as those who were not to report using e-cigarettes themselves. Experimental research has indicated that smokers have an attentional bias for e-cigarette cues.”
They concluded: “The concern that the surge in popularity of e-cigarettes may be renormalising smoking in England and that this may discourage smokers from trying to stop appears unsupported by our findings. Our results indicate that, in fact, smokers who are regularly exposed to other people using e-cigarettes are more likely to be highly motivated to stop smoking and more likely to have made a recent quit attempt than smokers who do not regularly encounter people using e-cigarettes.”
Dr Sarah Jackson said: “It is becoming increasingly more commonplace for smokers to come into contact with vapers and some concerns have been raised that this could 'renormalise' smoking in England and undermine smokers' motivation to quit."
“Our results found no evidence that spending time with vapers discourages smokers from quitting, which should help to alleviate concerns about the wider public health impact of e-cigarettes."
Jackson added: “A key factor driving these differences may be that smokers who are regularly exposed to e-cigarette use by others are more likely to use e-cigarettes themselves. When smokers' own use of e-cigarettes was taken into account, exposure to other people using e-cigarettes appeared to have little impact on how motivated smokers were to stop, and whether they made a recent quit attempt.”
Kruti Shrotri, Cancer Research UK's tobacco control expert, commented: "So far, there hasn't been much evidence about whether e-cigarettes might make smoking tobacco seem normal again. So it's encouraging to see that mixing with people who vape is actually motivating smokers to quit. As the number of people who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking rises, we hope that smokers who come into contact with them are spurred on to give up tobacco for good."
- Are smokers who are regularly exposed to e-cigarette use by others more or less motivated to stop or to make a quit attempt? A cross-sectional and longitudinal survey – Jackson, Beard, Michie, Shahab, Raupach, West, Brown - BMC Medicine 2018 16:206 - https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1195-3