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In case you missed it: New poll shows 45% of USA wrongly believes e-cigs are as ‘harmful’ as smoking

The results of a new survey released Friday indicates a significant rise in negative public perceptions as more and more Americans wrongly assume that vaping is just as deadly as smoking.  According to the research involving some 5,800 adults, only about one-third or 35 percent of the general public believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking compared to 45 percent five years earlier.

Perhaps more alarmingly, about the same number - 45 percent – now mistakenly believe that vaping is just as hazardous to public health as the smoking of combustible tobacco products.  Another 9.9 percent of the general population actually perceive vaping to be worse than smoking compared to only 1.3 percent in 2012.

Vaping versus smoking:  Co-authors warn ‘accurate communication’ is needed

The research was conducted by representatives from two different sources.  Officials from the Georgia State University Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (GSU-TCRS) administered a poll entitled the Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions Survey.  And the National Cancer Institute (NCI) administered the Health Information National Trends Survey.  The findings were then evaluated and compiled into a published report entitled Changing Perceptions of Harm of e-Cigarette vs Cigarette Use Among Adults in 2 US National Surveys From 2012 to 2017 (JAMA).

Related Article:  New JAMA study: Vaping is up to 98% less toxic than smoking

But even this most-recent vaping survey includes details that are very misleading, at best, and downright wrong, at worst.  For example, the co-authors of the report led by Dr. Jidong Huang continuously refer to electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, even though the e-liquids used in vaping are 100% tobacco-free.   

“The exponential growth in e-cigarettes has prompted a renewed interest in the tobacco harm reduction approach, which aims to curb the smoking epidemic rapidly by encouraging smokers to switch to low-risk tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. The potential role that e-cigarettes may play in reducing the harm caused by tobacco is still the subject of heated debate.

With reports like the JAMA study being picked up and spread on social media by mainstream media outlets like CNN and UPI,  is it any wonder that the American people are growing increasingly confused about the dangers of vaping versus smoking?  The report’s co-authors attempt to clarify this disconnect by readily admitting that vaping is “substantially less” harmful than smoking, but their insistence in calling e-cigs “tobacco products” only muddies the waters further.

“Although the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown, growing evidence and consensus among scientists and researchers suggest that the short-term health risks of completely switching to e-cigarettes are substantially less than those of continued smoking for adults who are unable or unwilling to quit cigarette smoking. For example, a recent comprehensive review concluded that, for adult smokers, a complete switch to e-cigarettes would impose substantially less harm than continuing to smoke cigarettes, which remain the deadliest tobacco product.”

Related Article:   Stanton Glantz goes berserk on Twitter; claims vapers are ‘better off’ smoking

The co-authors then proceed to seemingly blame public health agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and anti-tobacco advocacy groups of spreading disinformation – either wittingly or unwittingly. 

“Despite the growing scientific evidence, whether the short-term relative health risks of using e-cigarettes compared with cigarette smoking have been accurately communicated to the public is unclear.”
 
“Our results underscore the urgent need for accurate communication of the scientific evidence on the health risks of e-cigarettes and the importance of clearly differentiating the absolute harm from the relative harm of e-cigarettes.”
 

Yet the co-authors of the report – the GSU-TCRS and the NCI – can arguably be accused of being two of those very same anti-tobacco advocacy groups whom they simultaneously accuse of spreading disinformation that’s confusing the general public.  Public perception that vaping is just as deadly as smoking is on the rise, according to the survey’s findings, yet most of these sentiments are based on the myth that “tobacco products” and “vaping products” are one in the same.  Even the JAMA publication fails miserably short in clarifying this simple, non-debatable fact. 

Related Article:  In case you missed it: Disturbing video shows contrast between smoking vs. vaping

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