Posted on September 21, 2022 By Colin
A NEW STUDY has clearly demonstrated that exaggerating the risks of vaping leads to more smoking. Smokers who (incorrectly) believe vaping is as harmful as smoking are less likely to try vaping, less likely to switch and more likely to relapse to smoking.
The study published in BMC Public Health examined the data from the US PATH Surveys from 2014-2019. It found that 'risk misperceptions' are continuing to increase.
In 2019, 83% of US smokers incorrectly believed that vaping was as harmful as or more harmful than smoking when the scientific evidence is clear that vaping is substantially safer.
Smokers who believed that vaping was MORE harmful than smoking were more likely to continue to smoke.
However, smokers who correctly understood that vaping was LESS harmful were 134% more likely to try vaping, 127% more likely to stop smoking, less likely to dual use (vaping and smoking together) and less likely to relapse to smoking.
The reasons for the confusion about vaping risks were outlined as
Another study estimated that in one year in the US, 370,000 dual users would have switched away from smoking if they knew that vaping was less harmful than cigarettes.
Australian health departments, health charities and medical associations are all guilty of spreading lies about the risk of vaping and of running scare campaigns to discourage its use.
Organisations such as the National Health and Medical Research Council, National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health, Australian Medical Association, Cancer Council and Heart Foundation, Lung Foundation Australia, Australian Council on Smoking and Health, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation and the federal and state health departments are all responsible for misleading the public.
The mainstream media is a willing partner in this disinformation campaign, uncritically sharing misinformation and disregarding positive studies confirming the life-saving potential of vaping.
Untruthful campaigns by NSW Health and Queensland Health are reprehensible and lead to a loss of trust in public health.
The devastating outcome is more smoking and more smoking-related deaths and illness.
The study concludes that “correcting smokers’ relative risk perception on ENDS, by providing them with consistent and evidence-based information on relative risks (ie risk of vaping compared to smoking) may have a significant impact on reducing harm" and will save lives.
Instead of negative scare campaigns about vaping, Australian smokers need truthful information , comparing the small risks of vaping to the much more harmful effects of smoking. Smokers can then make informed choices about whether to vape instead.
Imagine the impact on public health if the Australian government actually encouraged vaping for smoking cessation like the UK and New Zealand governments
Hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved.
Kim S et al. US adult smokers’ perceived relative risk on ENDS and its effects on their transitions between cigarettes and ENDS. BMC Public Health 2022