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State of the Vaping Nation

New report looking at the state of vaping in the UK reveals that there is a “major trust gap” about vape products among smokers

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There is a major trust gap in vaping amongst smokers, with over half now believing they’re just as, or more, harmful than cigarettes. The poll of 2,000 smokers in the ‘Adult Smokers Trust in Vaping’ study, conducted by One Poll and commissioned by SMOORE, reveals a growing distrust in switching to vapes. Nearly 38% who lack trust, say it could stop them from attempting to quit their smoking habits through vaping in the future.

The government’s independent Kahn Review said vaping had a central role to play in a smokefree future across the country, with more than six and half million smokers still in the UK. And evidence last year by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) re-confirmed that vaping was at least 95% less harmful than smoking.

The ‘Adult Smokers Trust in Vaping’ study discovered:

  • 29% only trust vaping a little as a method to quit smoking
  • 13% do not trust it at all

Of those whose trust is diminishing, 35% cite the lack of independent long term clinical research showing vaping to be less harmful than smoking. Also, 31% are concerned about the lack of any information available about the harm profile of different vape products.

Other factors that had caused a lack of trust included:

  • negative reports and studies that smokers had come across
  • inconsistency of government attitudes across the world towards vaping
  • the growing black market for vapes
  • the view of the World Health Organisation on vaping

Dr. Chenxing Pei, a Senior Aerosol Engineer at SMOORE Centre for Analysis, Testing, and Safety Assessment, said: “There’s a major push to get smokers to move to vape products, but as of now, they just do not have all the information they need to make an informed decision to switch.

“It is vital smokers are confident enough to switch, especially since health minister Neil O’Brien said the government must ‘exploit the huge potential of vaping to help adult smokers to quit’.

“But reducing or quitting is incredibly difficult, it’s imperative to give them the belief that what they are attempting isn’t going to be a waste of time.

“And if vaping is to be viewed as a credible way to quit, urgent efforts need to be made to ensure smokers trust these products to have the desired impact.”

The research reveals how trust among these smokers could be regained, with 30% claiming public health campaigns promoting the evidence-based facts could turn the tide.

Better education of doctors to give more advice on how vaping can be an effective way to reduce harm caused by smoking, was cited as another key way to build trust.

Also, 21% would welcome advertising regulations for vaping companies to be lifted – as long as they are promoting evidence from credible sources.

But confusion persists among 68% of smokers when it comes to understanding which products would be suitable to help quit. And 70% now “don’t know who to believe” when it comes to vape products.

The study coincides with SMOORE establishing an independent ‘think tank’ of scientific, smoking cessation and compliance experts from the UK and US to lay the foundations for an industry-wide harm reduction rating system that can be communicated to consumers on product packaging or accessed via a QR code.

Dr Ian Fearon, one of the experts on the panel, who has previously worked for JUUL Labs and BAT in senior scientific and clinical roles, says: “The concept of tobacco harm reduction is not widely understood by smokers, and there are widespread misperceptions regarding the relative safety of vaping products compared with cigarette smoking among the general public.

“The development of a harm reduction label may help smokers to understand the reduced risk potential of vaping and encourage switching, in addition to reassuring vapers regarding the quality of the products they use and allowing them to differentiate between different products.”

Adds Dr Pei: “Government statistics last year showed that the proportion of smokers in the UK was at its lowest level since records begun, a decline which was attributed largely to the major role played by vapes.

“However, the findings of this study, highlight a significant trust gap amongst adult smokers and it’s crucial for the vaping industry, government, regulators and healthcare professionals to come together to bridge it and support smokers on their quitting journey.

“It’s clear that open and transparent communication is essential in this process and to supporting the government’s ambitions for the country to go smokefree.”


Dave Cross avatar

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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