New Misinformation Research Released

Posted 7th October 2021 by Dave Cross
New international research conducted by independent research firm Povaddo reveals that while the harms of smoking are nearly universally known, too many smokers remain unaware that better alternatives exist, they can’t access them, or they are confused by false or misleading information that prevents them from making an informed choice.

The study was commissioned by Philip Morris International (PMI) and discovered that despite the growing societal support for smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes that are scientifically substantiated to be better than continued smoking, misinformation poses a real threat to progress toward a smoke-free future.

Findings summary:

  • Accurate information on smoke-free alternatives plays a decisive role in enabling smokers to move away from cigarettes
  • Misinformation is a persistent threat with real world consequences for people who smoke. The survey shows existing confusion on primary causes of harm and how smoke-free products differ from cigarettes
  • Addressing misinformation with facts and science is seen by the public as a collective responsibility in order to achieve a smoke-free future faster

The findings were presented to the Science Driving Policy panel at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum conference last week by Gizelle Baker, vice president of global scientific engagement at Philip Morris International.

The study discovered that a vast majority (91%) of smokers who have switched to a better alternative and stopped smoking confirm that having accurate information about how these products differ from cigarettes was an important factor in their decision.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) of the survey’s respondents agree that adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking cigarettes should have access to, and accurate information about, smoke-free alternatives. This is supported by 87% of current smokers.

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The problem is, according to Povaddo, that misinformation continues to pose “a persistent threat”. Half of those survey mistakenly believe alternative nicotine products pose as much as or more harm than cigarettes, around two thirds failed to realise that it is the tar and toxins in tobacco products that causes smoking-related disease, and almost 40% had seen an example of anti-vape lies in the past month.

More than a third of smokers (33%) surveyed mention lack of information and uncertainty about the science (35%) among the reasons why they have not considered switching to smoke-free alternatives.”

Addressing what can be done about this situation, the general public hold that a smoke-free future will only be attained if everyone has access to facts and independent science.

The survey says that over eighty percent of think governments have “a responsibility to objectively review and consider the scientific evidence about smoke-free alternatives coming from manufacturers such as PMI.

Finally, “More than eight in 10 (83%) respondents believe that intergovernmental organisations like the World Health Organization have a responsibility to provide adult smokers with evidence-based information about smoke- free alternatives.”

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