Study Shows Youth See Vaping As Less Harmful Than Smoking Study Shows Youth See Vaping As Less Harmful Than Smoking

Researchers find teens have accurate harm perception of vaping.

There is a great deal of misinformation in the general public health discourse surrounding vaping. Despite constant fear-mongering from anti-vaping activists and ill-informed officials regarding a so-called teen vaping “epidemic,” evidence continues to emerge proving the opposite.

Public Health officials in the United Kingdom released survey analysis showing a majority of teens in the UK believe vaping is less harmful than smoking. These results are a direct contrast to the popular hysteria surrounding the concept of youth vaping.

Members of the vaping community have praised the research for showcasing the evidence that directly contradicts the teenage vaping myth. One often used as a fear-mongering tactic to pass legislation that restricts access to adult smokers looking to quit. Anti-vaping activists have criticized the organization and analysis for contradicting their argument and portraying vaping as a reduced-harm alternative to tobacco.

These activists constantly appeal to ill-informed parents through fear-mongering misinformation in an attempt to sway voters and pressure lawmakers to pass regulations that restrict the use and sale of vaping. These regulations, more often than not, end up limiting access to a proven reduced-harm alternative to tobacco for responsible adult smokers looking to reduce or quit their habit.

Properly Informed Public

Officials from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) released an analysis of a study involving 2,103 11-18 year olds in Great Britain showing that most teens have accurate harm perceptions of vaping. The data in question was drawn from the cross-sectional 2016 Smokefree Great Britain youth survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and the results were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The study aimed to assess the perceptions of electronic cigarettes as being less harmful than cigarettes, and that none or little of the harm of smoking comes from nicotine. Researchers from the NIHR note that while nearly two-thirds of teens had accurate harm perceptions of vaping, far fewer had accurate harm perceptions of nicotine.

The analysis also notes vaping delivers nicotine without the harmful byproducts of tobacco smoke, and that there is little evidence of risk associated with sustained nicotine use. The researchers say the proportion of inaccurate perceptions of vaping and nicotine are concerning, as it could limit the number of smokers willing to try a reduced-harm alternative to help them quit.

These results come during a massive global public health discussion surrounding vaping, particularly surrounding the use of vaping devices by teenagers. Studies such as this help to showcase teens are properly informed about any risks or benefits associated with vaping.

Benefits Of Vaping

There is plenty of evidence that exists contradicting the teenage vaping “epidemic” myth and that vaping e-cigarettes lead to smoking cigarettes. In a major study released by Public Health England involving over 60,000 11-16 year olds, researchers found only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens ever take up even semi-regular vaping.

While teens appear to have better harm perceptions of vaping, the public at large continues to be ill-informed. In a separate study performed by Action on Smoking and Health, researchers had found that as few as 13% of adults surveyed believed vaping is less harmful than smoking.

These negative and skewed perceptions exist despite growing evidence showing the reduced harm vaping poses to users as opposed to smoking. Independent studies conducted by Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center had found vaping to be 95% safer and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.

Alongside this, research published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers have a 57,000 times lower risk of cancer compared to smokers. The study also found that particulate matter produced by vaping present a reduced risk compared to particulate matter produced by smoking.


This survey analysis comes during a heated global public health and legislative debate surrounding vaping as a whole. Tobacco-control and anti-vaping activists often advance their narrative through the use of flagrant fear-mongering lies, such as the perpetuation of the so-called teen vaping “epidemic” myth.

Research like this helps to counter these narratives and provide a more balanced and nuanced discussion surrounding the topic of vaping. It is vital for all potential risks and benefits to be assessed before taking sweeping legislative action, even if it doesn’t happen more often than not.

Legislators and their constituents should independently research any topic they plan on regulating by using the complete spectrum of evidence available. The public mustn’t pressure lawmakers to enact regulation based on misinformation pushed by advocacy groups.

Members of the vaping community and responsible adult smokers must actively challenge misinformation as it arises and remains civically engaged to ensure our rights aren’t stripped away. Vaping can be a perfectly healthy component of a “smoke-free” world, and a balanced discussion can help take us there.

Do you believe there’s a so-called teenage vaping “epidemic”? Are you surprised teens find vaping to be less harmful than smoking? Let us know down below. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter to receive all the latest vaping news!

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Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.