Vaping vs Smoking: The perception vs the reality
There is ongoing debate about the safety of vaping as an alternative to smoking tobacco. Many reports and studies have been done, most of which conclude that vaping is far healthier. Yet perception exists in the general public that there is no difference.
A UK study by Public Health England (PHE) has found that over half of smokers believe that vaping products are equally or more harmful than smoking. This is despite all evidence from governing health authorities.
The perception that vaping is dangerous
In both the UK and US, expert studies by government bodies have concluded that regulated nicotine vaping is far less harmful than smoking. Whilst nobody is going to suggest vaping is 100% safe as the long-term impact will not be known for some time, All current evidence is pointing to at least 95% safer.
So why does the general public still perceive as being as dangerous?
The ‘Mysterious Vaping Illness’
UK Vape Shop Vapoholic provides a useful summary of events on the matter:
“In August 2019, the Centre for Disease Control started to investigate into ‘vape related illnesses’. This continues with ‘vape related deaths’ starting to hit the headlines across the world. The scaremongering begins regardless of the fact that each of these investigated cases were found to be using THC. This was combined with vitamin E acetate, both of which are illegal in the UK. This continues with states and countries even going to the extreme measure of banning vaping. Then moves onto flavoured e liquid which is completely unrelated to the ‘vape related illnesses’.
Fast-forward to January 2020. The world knows that the ‘Mysterious Illness’ was no more than people using unregulated black-market ingredients into their e liquid.
By this time though, the damage has already been done. Newspapers and media outlets have already sold their headlines of ‘vaping kills’. More alarmingly, anti-vape lobbyists have cemented the doubt and scaremongering misinformation to the general public.”
Should smokers be advised to switch to vaping?
The PHE report (amongst others like it) concludes that it should be encouraged for smokers to try switching regulated vaping products. Not in isolation, but alongside behavioural changes and support, and other quit smoking tools. Studies have proven this combination to be the most effective.
But whilst the perception exists of vaping as being as dangerous as smoking, there needs to be a change in public opinion for more people to make the right decision. Whilst the tobacco companies have significant political power to suppress studies and their results, the public are unlikely to change their habits quickly. Public Health reports and medical advise will help significantly, as will more public facing advise from trusted bodies such as the UKs NHS.
But old habits die hard. And there is a reality that it will take a number of years, legislation and reports until people’s perceptions of vaping change and they make the switch away from tobacco cigarettes.