E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Study Confirms Majority of American Adults Now Consider E-Cigarettes to Be As, if Not More, Harmful Than Tobacco Cigarettes

Gone are the days when people considered electronic cigarettes to be a less harmful alternative to tobacco smoking. According to a new survey from Georgia State University, over 60 percent of adults in the United States perceive vaping as just as harmful or more so than smoking cigarettes.

The study, which appears in the JAMA Networks Open journal, is based self-reported perceived harm of e-cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes data from two major national surveys – The Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions Surveys and the Health Information National Trends Surveys – from 2012 to 2017. After analyzing the data, researchers found that while in 2012, around 40 percent of respondents considered e-cigs as or more harmful than cigarettes, by 2017, that number had increased to 60 percent. Even among vapers, who generally consider electronic cigarettes to be less dangerous than analogs, the percentage of respondents who believed vaping was as bad as, or worse than, smoking increased significantly from 2012 to 2017.

Results showed that even adults who were uncertain about the health risks associated with e-cigarette use were more likely to consider them as or more harmful than tobacco cigarettes over time. Interestingly, the authors point out that a major shift in perception occurred around 2015. If before that year a large proportion of adults perceived e-cigarettes as less harmful, their number declined significantly, while the number of adults who considered them just as bad, if not worse, than smoking increased. Furthermore, those people who were initially unsure about the risks associated with e-cigarette use tended to form the perception that vaping was just as bad  as, or worse, than smoking.

“The results of this study underscore the urgent need for accurate communication of the scientific evidence on the health risks of e-cigarettes to American public, and the importance of differentiating the products’ absolute harm from their relative harm compared to cigarettes,” Jidong Huang, lead author of the research and associate professor of health policy and behavioral sciences at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, said.

As for the causes of this drastic change in perception over a relatively short period of time, Huang believes it “may reflect consumers’ concerns about the risk of addiction and/or the uncertainty about e-cigarette’s long-term health effects,” as well as  the “the emergence of new evidence of substantial risk of heart and lung diseases associated with e-cigarette use, as well as high levels of pulmonary toxicity in e-cigarettes”. However, he does emphasize a crucial point – all these risks must always be considered in comparison to the certain harm of continued smoking.

The study’s lead author also points out that the media may also play a big part in shaping people’s perception of electronic cigarettes, by conveniently emphasizing the absolute risk associated with vaping, while downplaying the relative risks. “Lack of accurate, consistent, and proactive risk communications to the public from scientists may also contribute to the confusion about the health risks of e-cigarettes,” the scientist added.

It’s sad to see that despite considerable scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are significantly less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes, the majority of adults perceives them otherwise. So far, we have two comprehensive reviews of objective scientific research on vaping that have confirmed that short-term health risks are substantially less than those of continued smoking. And yet, all the media seems to be concerned with is covering vaping like it’s the new plague, scaremongering and misleading the public every day.

Looking at the daily media coverage e-cigarettes get these days, the youth vaping epidemic everyone’s talking about, and legislators generally negative view of vaping, I actually expect public perception of electronic cigarettes to get even worse.


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