Health & Studies

Rutgers: Ignorance Remains Rife

Rutgers University has conducted a survey looking at attitudes towards vape products and discovered that ignorance about vaping facts remains worryingly high

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Rutgers University has conducted a survey looking at attitudes towards vape products and discovered that ignorance about vaping facts remains worryingly high. “About half of cigarette smokers and young adult non-smokers think that nicotine-based [vapes] have the same amount or even more harmful chemicals than regular cigarettes,” the team says.

The study, “Perceptions about levels of harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes relative to cigarettes, and associations with relative e-cigarette harm perceptions, e-cigarette use and interest”, published in Addiction, measured perceived levels of harmful chemicals in vape products compared with cigarettes adult smokers and non-smokers.

The study also measured perceptions of relative harm, vape product use and interest.

About 20 percent of all participants believed e-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes, while about 30 percent responded that they did not know how the levels compared, Rutgers University says.

Olivia Wackowski of Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and lead researcher of the study commented: “Our results were interesting to see given that previous review reports suggest e-cigarettes expose users to fewer types and lower levels of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals than cigarettes.

“It was also interesting to find that only about half of adult smokers who thought e-cigarettes have fewer harmful chemicals also thought e-cigarettes are less harmful to health.”

E-cigarette harm perception relative to typical cigarettes is a common question included on major national health and tobacco surveys in the United States, according to the study team. “However, surveys of e-cigarettes typically haven’t included a question about the perceived exposure to or level of harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes relative to cigarettes.”

According to the study researchers, measuring perceptions of e-cigarette and cigarette chemical exposure is important because e-cigarette communications often directly refer to chemicals in some way, “which may impact perceptions about chemicals and harms from using e-cigarettes compared to cigarettes.”

The team wrote in their paper: “Overall, this study found that the majority of adults who smoke cigarettes and young adult non-smokers do not think e-cigarettes have fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes and do not think e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes.

“These measures were only moderately correlated, indicating that beliefs about fewer harmful chemicals do not automatically translate to lower relative harm beliefs. Both items were associated with e-cigarette use among adults who smoke cigarettes, a group who could potentially benefit from switching.

“Future surveys should consider including measures to track beliefs about relative exposure to harmful chemicals, given the association of these beliefs with product interest and use, and that various e-cigarette communications may influence these beliefs.”

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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