Smokers may stop vaping due to current health warnings about e-cigarettes

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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After a study revealed that the existing messaging may discourage smokers from transitioning to vaping, the government has been encouraged to reevaluate the seriousness of health warnings on e-cigarette packaging.

According to a study by London South Bank University (LSBU), current health warnings about the risks of vaping may deter smokers as well as prevent people from picking it up.

Instead of luring non-smokers to switch to vaping, using “reduced risk” statements pushed tobacco users to quit smoking.

2,495 UK people were surveyed by researchers from the university’s center for addictive behavior research about how hazardous, addictive, and effective e-cigarettes were, as well as their intentions to use them.

Between December 2018 and January 2019, they were asked to rate the e-cigarettes both before and after reading various internet health warnings.

Participants who had seen the EU marketing that stated: “This product includes nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance, assessed e-cigarettes as more addictive and dangerous. It is not advised for those who do not smoke.

It has been discovered that a different decreased risk message that reads, “Use of this product is much less harmful than smoking” reduces perception of harm exclusively in smokers.

It boosted smokers’ intentions to buy and use e-cigarettes, but not those of non-smokers.

“Because current (EU) messages concentrate on the absolute risks of nicotine use, they may actually discourage use in smokers and undermine the potential of e-cigarettes to support a change in smoking behavior,” the authors stated.

While it is undoubtedly beneficial to reduce the appeal of smoking among non-smokers, effective health communications should convey hazards without discouraging smokers.

The research’s principal investigator, Professor Lynne Dawkins of nicotine and tobacco studies at LSBU, added: “Ultimately, if more smokers switch to e-cigarettes, there will be fewer smoking-related deaths and diseases.”

E-cigarettes are a relatively new product; we strongly advise against using them as they are not risk-free and their long-term effects are unknown, according to Kruti Shrotri, tobacco control manager at Cancer Research UK, which provided funding for the study.

However, evidence to date indicates that vaping is less dangerous than tobacco use and can aid in quitting smoking.

This study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding what can be done to assist smokers in quitting tobacco use by switching to e-cigarettes while preventing non-smokers from utilizing them.

Regarding the degree of hazards connected with vaping, scientists are still split.

Cardiologists have criticized the “paucity of evidence” used to back up claims that e-cigarettes are a “healthy” substitute for tobacco use or that they aid in quitting.

The recommendation made by Public Health England (PHE), which maintains by its assertion that e-cigarettes are 95% less dangerous than smoking, is in stark contrast to this.

Apple announced last week that it was removing vaping-related apps from its app store because to concerns about the effects on young people’s health.