Expert Reaction to ASH E-cigarette Use In GB 2023 Survey

The Science Media Centre website has published various expert reactions to the results of the ASH / YouGov E-cigarette Use in Great Britain 2023 survey.

Sadly the results showed that 4 in 10 smokers wrongly believe that vaping is as or more harmful than smoking.

Instead of simply copy / pasting the whole article I will pick out some of my favourite quotes.

You can read the full document here – “expert reaction to latest results from ASH annual survey on vaping in Great Britain”

Dr Leonie Brose
Dr Leonie Brose, Reader in Addiction Education and Nicotine Research, King’s College London (KCL), said:

“In GB, about 8 million people smoke cigarettes, a product that kills at least half of its long-term users if used as intended. The harm from smoking also disproportionately affects people who have other disadvantages such as poor mental health. We know that vaping is much less harmful, however, about 40% of people who smoke now think that there is no difference in harm. This is concerning as it will make them less likely to try what we know is an effective way of stopping smoking.”

Prof Peter Hajek
Prof Peter Hajek, Professor of Clinical Psychology, and Director, Health and Lifestyle Research Unit at the Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Queen Mary University of London, said:

“The level of misinformation about health risks of vaping is alarming.

“E-cigarettes are a major breakthrough in public health. They are helping smokers quit on an unprecedented scale and help substantially with eliminating smoking-related cancer, heart disease and lung disease.”

Prof Caitlin Notley
Prof Caitlin Notley, Professor of Addiction Sciences, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, said:

“… it is concerning that ‘four in ten smokers (39%) in Great Britain now believe vaping is as or more risky compared with smoking’. This demonstrates an increase in inaccurate public perceptions, probably driven by media reporting. The main concern here is that inaccurate perceptions may impact behaviour, potentially preventing people who smoke from switching to vaping in order to quit smoking, or even relapsing back to tobacco smoking, in the fear that vaping may be more, not less, harmful to health.”

Dr Sharon Cox
Dr Sharon Cox, Principal Research Fellow in Behavioural Science and Health, University College London (UCL), said:

“…it is the poor reporting of studies, as well as poorly conducted studies, which has led to widespread misperceptions. Consequently, we are losing out on the net population health win that these products can offer. This trend needs to be stopped and reversed.”

Dr Sarah Jackson
Dr Sarah Jackson, Principal Research Fellow, UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University College London (UCL), said:

“There is an ongoing disconnect between scientific evidence on the relative harms of vaping compared with smoking and how these risks are communicated to the public. Cigarettes are uniquely lethal, and a large number of studies have established that vaping (although not entirely risk-free) is much less harmful than smoking. But this is not what people are being told when they turn on their TV or read a newspaper. Rather, media coverage typically focuses on risks to young people who don’t smoke – and generally doesn’t compare these to any risks vapers would face if they opted to smoke instead. Understandably, this can lead to confusion about the relative harms of vaping compared with smoking, which ASH’s survey results show clearly.

“Misperceptions about the risks of vaping vs. smoking are a health risk in and of themselves. If smokers think vaping is equally or more harmful than smoking, they may be less inclined to try and switch to vaping, leaving them using a more harmful product. And if young vapers who have never smoked think the risks are similar, they may not be concerned about moving on from vaping to smoking.”