Association of the US Outbreak of Vaping-Associated Lung Injury With Perceived Harm of e-Cigarettes Compared With Cigarettes

Summary of Study

Bottom line: The proportion of current smokers in Britain who believed that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking decreased significantly following the U.S. outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury. And the proportion of smokers who believed e-cigarettes were as harmful or more harmful than smoking rose significantly. Clear communication about the relative safety of e-cigarettes by public health officials is vital.

Government bodies recognize that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking because they don't deliver toxins, but the general public often thinks they are equally harmful. This misperception reduces switching from smoking to less harmful e-cigarettes, harming public health.

This study of current British smokers concludes that the recent U.S. outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury, which was almost entirely confined to shoddy marijuana vaping products, worsened these misperceptions. 

Specifically, the proportion of smokers who perceived e-cigarettes as less harmful than combustible cigarettes decreased significantly from 37.0% to 30.9%. Conversely, there were significant increases in the proportion of individuals who perceived e-cigarettes as equally harmful (39.9% to 43.8%) and more harmful (12.7% to 17.2%) compared to smoking after the outbreak.

These misperceptions may reduce the number of smokers who transition to e-cigarettes and convince those who have switched to return to smoking. These misperceptions may be even more pronounced in the U.S., where the outbreak occurred. The results of this study demonstrate the necessity of clear communications from public health officials about the relative safety of e-cigarettes.

Read the full survey HERE

Feature Charticle

Perceived Harm of e-Cigarettes Compared With Cigarettes Among Smokers in England From 2016 to 2019

JAMA

Findings:

  • The proportion of current smokers in Britain who believed that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking decreased significantly following the U.S. outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury. 
  • Conversely, the proportion of smokers who believed e-cigarettes were as harmful or more harmful than smoking rose significantly. 
  • Clear communication about the relative safety of e-cigarettes by public health officials is vital. 

Read the full survey HERE