Survey Shows As Ecig Awareness Grows, So Does Public Skepticism
Just five years ago, only 16 percent of Americans had even heard of an electronic cigarette. That’s hard to believe when today’s ecig industry is bringing in $1.7 billion per year! We’ve come a long way in the fight for ecig awareness and a recent national survey showed a massive spike in the number of Americans that have heard of ecigarettes. Unfortunately, as vaping awareness grows, it appears that skepticism is also on the rise.
According to a new survey in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the majority of Americans now know about electronic cigarettes. In fact, 77 percent of those surveyed were aware of ecigs. Unfortunately, only 65 percent of people viewed vaping as less harmful than smoking. This is a notable decline from older surveys where 84 percent of adults viewed ecigs as less harmful than tobacco. While it’s great that the majority of Americans still view ecigs as a positive change from tobacco, it is also concerning that skepticism is on the rise.
The recent survey was collected by mail-in questionnaires and the responses were compiled by Dr. Andy Tan from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and Dr. Cabral Bigman, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Champaign. The researchers received responses from men and women, but around two-thirds of participants were Caucasian and had some level of college education. Interestingly, the non-white and less educated participants had a lower level of ecig awareness.
The researchers explained that the survey was meant to measure the growth of ecig awareness. “Given the rapidly evolving landscape in advertising and media coverage of e-cigarettes, the first objective of this study is to describe the prevalence of awareness and perceived harmfulness of e-cigarettes,” the researchers explained. Though skepticism is already rising, Dr. Tan and Dr. Bigman said more research is needed to know if ecigs are really less harmful than tobacco and if vaping could really be effective for people that want to quit smoking.
It’s a little ironic that Dr. Tan and Dr. Bigman are investing time in ecig research when they clearly have not read other studies about ecigs and smoking cessation. We have already seen several large research projects that proved ecigs can be effective for helping smokers quit. We also know that vaping is effective for preventing smoking relapses.
The new survey begs for us to ask an important question: Why is ecig skepticism rising? With more people aware of e-cigarettes, why do fewer people see them as a less harmful alternative to tobacco? There are several possibilities. First, it could be thanks to a lot of negative coverage in the media. It seems like there are huge ecig myths spread in the mainstream media almost daily and research that promotes ecigs as a positive alternative is often ignored completely.
Second, the growing skepticism could be traced back to pharmaceutical companies that are working hard to discredit ecigs. Big Pharma stands to lose a lot of money if people view ecigs as the best option for smoking cessation. Nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation drugs account for a lot of money each year. If smokers rely on ecigs to quit, then sales for nicotine patches and prescription drugs like Chantix will rapidly decline.
Why do you think ecig skepticism is growing?