Home Medizin Die Ansichten der Raucher über den Schaden von E-Zigaretten verschlechtern sich und stimmen mit den Bedenken gegenüber Zigaretten überein oder übertreffen diese

Die Ansichten der Raucher über den Schaden von E-Zigaretten verschlechtern sich und stimmen mit den Bedenken gegenüber Zigaretten überein oder übertreffen diese

von NFI Redaktion

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open examined trends in the perception of harm caused by electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) compared to combustible cigarettes among smokers in England.

E-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and can help people quit smoking. However, many adult smokers believe that e-cigarettes are as harmful as cigarettes. Various factors could have contributed to confusion about e-cigarettes. Media coverage often exaggerated the risks of e-cigarettes, which may have amplified misconceptions.

Study: Trends in Perceptions of E-Cigarette Harm Compared to Cigarettes Among Smoking Adults in England, 2014–2023. Image credit: Andrey_Popov/ShutterstockStudy: Trends in Perceptions of E-Cigarette Harm Compared to Cigarettes Among Smoking Adults in England, 2014–2023. Image credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Reports of risks can also influence harm perception. For example, in 2019, an outbreak of acute lung injuries was wrongly attributed to vaping before the cause was identified, labeled as E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI). There were concerns that e-cigarettes could increase the risk and severity of COVID-19, although evidence for this was scarce.

Following the EVALI outbreak, there were temporary spikes in harmful perceptions of e-cigarettes. However, it remains unclear how harm perception of e-cigarettes evolved beyond 2020 and how changes differed among population subgroups. It is important to assess whether there have been changes in perception among adult smokers over time, as this impacts precise support and communication.

About the Study

In this study, researchers examined trends in harm perception of e-cigarettes compared to regular cigarettes in England. Data was collected from an ongoing cross-sectional survey among adults between November 2014 and June 2023. The sample was limited to individuals aged 18 or older who were current smokers, as the survey point for assessing harmful perception of e-cigarettes was focused on them.

Smokers were asked to assess whether e-cigarettes were less, more, or equally harmful as regular cigarettes. The primary outcome was the proportion of smokers who considered e-cigarettes less harmful. Secondary outcomes included the proportions who thought it was more harmful, equally harmful, or responded „Don’t know.“

E-cigarette status was determined by asking participants if they had used an e-cigarette product or device to quit smoking or reduce it, or for other reasons. Those responding to e-cigarette use were classified as current vapers. The team used logistic regression to assess associations between survey waves and e-cigarette perceptions.

Results

Of the over 169,400 respondents, 28,393 were current smokers, including 13,253 females. They had an average age of 43.5 years, and 5,879 participants were current vapers. Overall, 35.2% of smokers believed e-cigarettes were less harmful than regular cigarettes; 36.7% viewed it as equally harmful, 13.4% as more harmful, and 14.8% didn’t know.

Moreover, the proportion of those perceiving it as less harmful than regular cigarettes was higher among current vapers and in the 35-64 age group. Nearly a third of dual users, smokers and vapers, perceived e-cigarettes as more or equally harmful. Significant changes in harm perception occurred over time. Specifically, in November 2014, the most common belief was that e-cigarettes were less harmful (44.4%); however, by June 2023, this belief had decreased by 40%.

The proportion of smokers considering it less harmful decreased to 33.2% between November 2014 and July 2019, while the proportion who saw it as equally harmful increased to 42.5%. Remarkably, there were clear shifts in perception by the end of 2019, with the proportion seeing it as harmful dropping sharply in the first quarter of 2020.

Currently, the percentage of respondents who perceive e-cigarettes as more or equally harmful has risen to 50.6%. The decline in the proportion of smokers who view e-cigarettes as less harmful was similar across all age groups. The increase in the proportion of people believing e-cigarettes are more harmful was most pronounced in the youngest age group, and the proportion of those viewing e-cigarettes as less harmful was consistently lower among non-vapers.

Conclusions

In conclusion, the harm perception of e-cigarettes among adult smokers in England has significantly worsened over the last decade. While in 2014, the most common belief was that e-cigarettes were less harmful, by June 2023, the proportion holding this view had decreased by 40%. On the other hand, the proportion of those perceiving e-cigarettes as more harmful has more than doubled. Currently, most adult smokers who do not vape do not believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

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