Some polls are beginning to show that the public perception of vaping is on the rise
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest challenges facing the vaping industry is the continued lack of public perception to their many benefits. But things may finally be starting to shift in our favor, as polls now indicate almost half of all British adults understand vaping is much safer than smoking. This is still far from where we need to be, especially in other countries, but it’s fantastic to see proof that we’re winning the war.
Bolstering this push for acceptance is the growing pile of evidence which clearly shows vaping is not only much safer than smoking but also the best smoking cessation tool available. Unfortunately, though, the public understanding of these findings has been woefully low, even in places such as the UK which lead the world in proper utilization of vaping. But the trend is clearly moving the right way, as a poll conducted by Action on Smoking and Health back in 2016 found that just 13% of British adults believed vaping was safer than smoking.
The Shifting Tide
While this new report used a much smaller pool than the ASH poll, the results were quite clear. Vaping has a growing understanding among the general public. The market research firm YouGov gathered responses from over two thousand adults asking if they felt e-cigarettes were safer than cigarettes. They concluded that 43% did agree vaping is much safer, while only 5% felt vaping was more dangerous. That left 31% who said the risk was similar, and 21% saying they didn’t know enough to answer adequately.
It was also shown that men had a better chance of thinking vaping was safer by a 46% to 41% margin. It’s worth noting that the chances a given person believes vaping is safer stayed mostly consistent across all economic groups tested. In fact, 44% of wealthy respondents and 42% of lower-middle-class respondents understood vaping is much safer. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing strongly correlates with a well-rounded understanding of the benefits of vaping. The same poll found that those who are on social media platforms often are much more likely to know cigarettes are more dangerous, coming in at 46% to 29%. To really understand how far we’ve come, you must first understand how bad things have been.
Vaping has truly exploded from the innovative new device to the multi-billion dollar industry it is today in just over a decade. Despite this growth, however, a massive portion of the general public is very misinformed about precisely what vaping is and what risks it presents. People in and around the community nearly all agree that vaping is much safer than smoking, but most people who have no involvement think vaping is basically the same as smoking. This is a pretty significant problem given how much peer-reviewed evidence indicates vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Instead of understanding vaping as the harm reduction tool it is, most people tend to see vaping as an alternative form of tobacco consumption, such as hookah or chewing tobacco.
The best example of this is none other than the 2016 poll by Action on Smoking and Health which concluded only 13% of adults believed vaping was much safer than smoking. What’s worse is that more than double the respondents felt that vaping was just as, if not more dangerous. While these numbers are quite worrisome, our new data indicates things are moving the right direction. A full 43% now understand that vaping is much safer, but 36% believe the opposite. So while a quickly growing number of people understand the real impact, many remain misled.
This problem is one that must be solved before vaping can realize its full potential as a smoking cessation and harm reduction tool. Some people feel that it’s unimportant if non-smokers are on board with the benefits of vaping, but it will always remain difficult or impossible to change laws in favor of vaping rights when so many people think they do no good. From the outside, vaping and smoking may appear very similar, but when you take a look at the data, the truth is evident. Vaping is one of the best harm reduction and smoking cessation tools we have at our disposal, and it should be treated as such. As long as we keep undermining the value, it will always be hard to end the smoking epidemic once and for all.
What’s the reason behind the shift in public perception? Do you think it matters if the average person knows about the benefits of vaping? How should we be working to teach non-smokers about vaping? 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.