New Survey Indicates Public Understanding Of Vaping’s Benefits On The Rise

Nearly half of the respondents believed vaping to be safer than smoking, way up from similar polls taken by ASH in recent years

A brand new survey published last week found that nearly half of British adults now believe vaping to be better for your health than smoking. Longtime readers will know that we often lament the pitiful public understanding of vaping and its associated risks, but polls like this prove the science is winning out.

The last several years have seen a plethora of peer-reviewed studies indicating e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to smoking. But so far, the public has lagged behind in their awareness of these benefits. This is true even in vaping friendly countries like the UK, where a 2016 poll taken by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of respondents thought vaping was a lot safer than smoking. But these latest results show that, at least in the UK, public perception of vaping is increasing.

New Poll

The new survey, which was conducted by YouGov, an international internet-based market research firm. They got responses from 2134 adults living in the UK about their attitudes toward vaping, and if they believed e-cigarettes are “generally better for people’s health than smoking.” What they found was that 43% of adults do in fact believe vaping is safer than smoking. Around 31% of respondents said they thought vaping and smoking posed similar risks, and only 5% said vaping was more dangerous. The remaining respondents opted out, saying they did not know which was better.

Diving further into the results, men were slightly more likely to believe vaping was safer (46% vs. 41%). Interestingly, the likelihood that someone would believe vaping is a safer alternative to smoking seems to be consistent across economic groups. The poll found that 44% of higher earners and 42% of lower earners believed that cigarettes are more dangerous. The same can not be said for social media use, with those who regularly use sites like Facebook and Twitter being more likely to understand the differences than those who don’t. (46% vs 29%). But you can not grasp the true meaning of these results until you understand just how poor the public perception of vaping has been in the past.

Public Reputation For Vaping

While the vaping industry has grown into a massive business over the last ten years, a significant portion of the general public is still relatively unaware of just what vaping is, and what sorts of risks it may pose. When you ask people who are involved in the industry, there is an almost universal agreement that vaping is much safer than smoking, and this has been the case for several years now. But even in 2018, the majority of the general public around the world still believes that vaping is mostly the same as smoking. Even in countries such as the UK where vaping has been supported by government health agencies, most of the general population still thinks vaping is just as, if not more, dangerous than smoking.

Take for example the 2016 survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) that found only 13% of respondents correctly believed vaping to be safer than smoking. Compared with nearly 26% who thought they were just as, if not more dangerous. If you compare these bleak figures with the more recent poll, also out of the UK, you’ll see that the gap is narrowing. According to the new statistics, 43% of respondents believe vaping is safer than smoking, while only 36% think that vaping is just as, if not more, dangerous. While the work is far from done, results like this are encouraging that the tide is shifting.


One of the most critical things that need to happen for vaping to become the vastly successful smoking cessation tool we all know it can be is for the general public to buy in finally. It may seem unnecessary to get non-smokers and non-vapers to understand the benefits of vaping. But until a more substantial portion of the population agrees, the laws will never change and continue to skew toward treating vaping and smoking as the same. The UK took a massive step toward resolving this dilemma this year. For this first time, they supported vaping as a part of their annual Stoptober, smoking cessation campaign.

It’s easy to see why those who don’t have a horse in the race could see smoking and vaping as very similar. Vaping produces a cloud, is inhaled like cigarettes, and usually contains nicotine. But we must work with these people to help them understand the research. It won’t be until the vast majority of people understand that vaping is the best tool we have in the fight against smoking that society and, in turn, the law will start to treat them as entirely separate.

What do you think has caused the apparent shift in understanding of vaping in the UK? Is it a big deal if the average person considers vaping and smoking to be more or less the same? Do you think that getting non-smokers to understand the benefits of vaping is critical in the broader fight for vaping rights? Let us know in the comments.


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