A new report concludes messages highlighting the differences between vaping and smoking may be particularly helpful in helping people quit
Millions of ex-smokers around the world credit vaping as a primary reason they were finally able to quit smoking for good. You would think this would result in some positive PR, but the reality is that most people are woefully misinformed about vaping. Most lawmakers are busy equating vaping with smoking, further undermining the harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. Things are so bad that less than 15% of the general population understands that vaping is much safer than smoking; Even worse is that nearly 30% believe it’s just as if not more dangerous.
We’re still a long way from where we need to be, but there have been reasons to be encouraged over the last several years. Not only is there an ever-growing list of reports indicating the benefits of vaping, but we’re also zeroing in on a primary key to fixing the perception problem. A report published by researchers at Georgia State University concluded we could significantly improve the public perception of vaping by highlighting the dangers of smoking during health public service announcements which compare vaping and smoking.
Georgia State Study
Led by Dr. Lucy Popova, the team from Georgia State’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science wanted to help answer the vital question of how we should be treating the problem of vaping vs. smoking. First, they gathered over 1,400 participants and had them give reactions to a given type of harm reduction message. The first one simply detailed how vaping and smoking are different, but the second spent more time talking about how smoking was worse. When comparing these results with the control tests, the team began noticing some interesting patterns.
Both types of comparative risk messages had the desired effect of increasing the understanding that vaping is much safer than smoking. They noted that participants had a lower desire to smoke, increased plans to convert to vaping, as well as improving their perception of vaping overall. Bolstering these results was the lack of evidence showing potentially dangerous dual-use stemming from the messages. Ultimately though, the most significant conclusion was that the messages which spent extra time highlighting the dangers of smoking were much more effective in changing perception.
What We Know
This new report has helped clarify the importance of evidence-based messages; luckily we have no shortage of those. For starters, we have substantial evidence showing that vaping more than just another mediocre smoking cessation tool. A study published out of the University of Louisville last fall tested the most commonly used smoking cessation tools. This included everything from the ever-popular cold turkey method, through the latest in prescription drugs. After testing everything, the only method more successful than prescription drugs was none other than vaping.
If you’re looking for more, we’ve also got plenty of evidence vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking. In fact, there’s been reputable evidence indicating vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking since at least 2015, thanks to Public Health England. Then just last year we got another huge win for the vaping community when it was shown that the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than someone who vapes.
We must focus on teaching the public about everything vaping has to offer as a smoking cessation and harm reduction tool. It’s now more evident than ever, thanks to this study, that educating the general public is one major step we can take toward ending the smoking epidemic. If people don’t realize how much safer they are, they’ve got very little reason ever even to try to switch.
We must force our representatives to acknowledge the value of vaping before it’s too late. But the only way we can do this is by gaining enough support for the cause. That’s why it’s so critical we learn more about improving the public perception of vaping. It’s our best shot to lower the number of smoking-related deaths further. So it’s up to us to start with our friends and neighbors; we have to get the conversation moving.
Do you find it surprising that so few people understand how safe vaping is? Should we be aiming for more comparative risk messages, or something else? Do you agree that increased public perception will lead to fewer smoking-related deaths? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.