YouGov Provides Mixed Results

Posted 5th February 2018 by Mawsley
YouGov, the most well known of polling companies, with a huge online presence, published the results to a brief survey looking at vaping. Some are touting the result as evidence of a growing support for vape-based harm reduction. In truth, it is probably less substantial than it appears.

Considering that vaping is, according to the last study by Robert West, practised by more than 2.8 million adults in the UK, it is surprising how little work YouGov has carried out on the subject. The last piece of fieldwork was conducted in 2015.

It is difficult to describe the current work as a study, given that it is restricted to one single question – but the number of people the organisation can target does mean that the response can give a good insight into where education efforts might need to be targeted.

2134 YouGov members responded when they were asked:

  • For the following question, by "smoking", we mean smoking tobacco-based products (e.g. cigarettes, pipes, cigars etc.). By "vaping", we mean inhaling vapour from electronic cigarettes and other similar devices (e.g. vaporizers etc.).
  • Overall, which one of the following comes closest to your view? (Please select the option that best applies)
    • I think vaping is generally better for your health than smoking
    • I think vaping has the same impact on your health as smoking
    • I think vaping is generally worse for your health than smoking
    • And, Don’t know

The results were touted as something to be celebrated by a press release from one electronic cigarette vendor, but is that reflected in the data?

When questioned, 43% of respondents thought that vaping is safer than smoking - this in itself is troubling. Given that Public Health England, The Royal College of Physicians and the recent NHS Quit smoking campaign have all thrown their weight behind vaping being safer, the message is struggling to be conveyed.

Almost a third of people believe vaping is as bad as smoking, with a staggering 5% (107 people) believing that vaping is more dangerous than smoking!

Twenty-one percent of respondents didn’t know what to think, that’s one fifth of all replies. Negative perceptions of vaping tended to be held more by women than men. People are more likely to think vaping is more dangerous than smoking if they live in the East of England (6%), the West Midlands (9%), and the North East (8%).

The person who is most likely to be against the idea of vaping is one who has over three children, is unemployed or self-describes as other not working. People who were best informed about the benefits of vaping were full-time students.

The best-informed social media users tended to gain information from Linkedin, Snapchat and Skype. Poorly informed respondents tended to gain information primarily from WhatsApp, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.