Populus Ecig Survey

Posted 4th December 2015 by Dave Cross
Populus, a leading UK research company, have followed up their 2014 survey with a new one focussing on smoking and vaping habits. It highlights some interesting areas and adds to our knowledge of the vaping community.

In 2014 they looked at MPs’ attitudes towards e-cigs, what they found were some entrenched beliefs. At the time 21% said they were convinced vaping offered a gateway to smoking but 65% felt electronic cigarettes would lead to a reduction in smoking. Almost 60% of MPs supported the notion of regulating advertising and thought that treating ecigs like food was the most appropriate course of action. Just over half agreed with the Welsh initiative to ban vaping in public buildings.

This year, in a total sample of 2,103 adults: 39% said they were never-smokers, 11% dabbled but never became full-time smokers while the rest were all former smokers. The subjects were evenly distributed across the country, age groups and employment sectors.

It discovered that most vapers use their devices throughout the day but the first amazing finding was that, from the total sample, 826 though vaping was AS DANGEROUS as smoking – while 73 people genuinely think vaping presents a greater harm to users!

This is to be expected given 78% involved have never vaped and it is something highlighted in the Public Health England report that there’s a worrying trend to believe the scare stories propagated by the anti-ecig lobby. What remains incredible is that 15% of current vapers believe it is as dangerous and 1% considers it more dangerous than smoking.

Despite the Public Health England report stating that electronic cigarettes are at least 95% safer than smoking, of those who agree it’s less dangerous: 30% don’t know by how much and the rest are spread out relatively evenly over the range from 10% up to completely safe...5% erroneously believing the latter.

23% of people believe that government has done a good job regulating e-cigs, 33% think there should be fewer restrictions, 43% hold that all advertising should be banned while a whopping 45% welcome the tough stance taken by the European parliament with Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

Of the people supporting the position of the UK government, 28% of them are current vapers. 76% of vapers think there should be fewer restrictions, which means that 24% think they are fine or should be even tighter. But it is staggering that 26% of vapers agree with Article 20 – one wonders if they are even aware of the implications for businesses and product choice? Do the 23% of vapers believe vape businesses, forums and YouTube channels can survive without advertising? Apparently so.

When vapers were asked about their future intentions, it being pointed out that most devices will become illegal under the TPD, 26% plan to switch to a legal device. 5% expressed an intention to give up altogether, 24% plan on continuing with their current kit but worryingly 17% said they would return to traditional cigarettes.

While three quarters of vapers ignore negative stories about vaping 14% admitted to smoking more instead. Quite how the public health professionals who contribute to The Lancet can balance their behaviour with such a response is difficult to comprehend.

An indication to who the vapers are came through the description of the devices they use. Most respondents used cigalikes, Evod-style tanks or pre-filled disposable tanks – the least likely to make use of online forums and be aware of the political backdrop to vaping.

Vapers were more likely to have taken a foreign holiday in the last three years, were more likely to be homeowners and attain higher educational qualifications than smokers. Vapers are more likely to own a car but both smokers and vapers were equally as likely to be in employment. Oddly, vapers are more likely to be married whereas smokers are more likely to be co-habiting.

14% of smokers stated they had a physical impairment to them being able to work compared to 18% of vapers. Mental health conditions were cited by 11% of smokers versus 5% of vapers.

While some of the findings are interesting the message appears to be that the health benefits are simply not getting through to smokers – and a sizable number of people who vape.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker