Smokers believe that more advertising showing the public health potential of vaping and the cost saving versus cigarettes are key to them making the switch to vaping, new research reveals.
The study by Consumer Intelligence on behalf of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) reveals that:
- 68% felt that changing current advertising restrictions imposed by the Advertising Standards Agency to allow public health messages to be promoted by the vaping industry would help more smokers make the switch.
- nearly 2 in every 3 smokers (63%) interviewed felt that information from their GP, pharmacist or a healthcare professional would influence their decision to make the change;
- 61% said that visible information in a healthcare environment would be beneficial;
- nearly half (48%) called for more educational advertising by public health organisations or the government in the media;
- some two thirds (61%) agreed that Public Health England’s recent recommendation for hospitals to allow vaping on their premises and to sell e-cigarettes and e-liquids on site would convince more of them to take up vaping.
Commenting on the findings, John Dunne, a director at UKVIA said: “This highlights the critical role that accurate advertising has to play in realizing the public health prize that vaping represents. This isn’t coming from the industry but from smokers who could be convinced to break their habits.
“More education all round is needed to get smokers to make the switch and to realise the full public health potential of vaping. There needs to be a strong and cohesive message from government, public health and the vaping industry to make switching from smoking to vaping an obvious choice.
Vaping perception problems
The research which surveyed more than 1,000 smokers also revealed that the vaping industry, despite its fast rate of growth, was in danger of not fulfilling its full potential. It showed that many still consider vaping to be as harmful or more so than conventional cigarettes. A significant number also wrongly believe vaping to be more expensive than smoking and are confused by the array of vaping devices on the market.
- Some 40% of smokers interviewed still didn’t think or don’t know that conventional cigarettes are more harmful than e-cigarettes, despite Public Health England (PHE) recently reinforcing its stance that vaping is likely to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking. This notably correlates with PHE’s recent finding that 40% of the UK’s 7m smokers still haven’t even tried vaping.
- Nearly half of those surveyed still did not think or did not know that smoking was more expensive than vaping. A calculation by Cancer Research UK last year showed that a smoker could be looking at a £840 saving per annum on average through a full switch to vaping. This would mostly benefit people with a lower income, with the latest NHS report on smoking showing that adults classified as routine and manual workers were most likely to be current smokers (26%) and those in managerial and professional occupations were least likely (10%).
The survey also produced considerable food for thought for the industry, with 24% of smokers saying they were confused by the number of products on the market. One in five said that it was inconvenient to buy equipment.
Making the switch
The Consumer Intelligence study also looked at smokers’ experiences of and attitudes to using e-cigarettes to identify what was most likely to help them make the switch to vaping. It revealed:
- Odour of conventional cigarettes (62% of respondents), vaping being cheaper (60%) and favourable insurance premiums for vapers (50%) were viewed by smokers as being key influences in making the switch from smoking to vaping;
- 46% of smokers said media coverage of vaping hasn’t encouraged them to consider a switch to vaping, this is likely due to the significant number of conflicting or confusing stories;
- Over 55s are the least likely group to have tried vaping and are proving to be the hardest group to reach with vaping communications, with 73% claiming not to have seen any form of information from the media and health bodies. Given this age group’s proportionate consumption of TV, radio and print media, advertising restrictions on vaping will only exacerbate the lack of awareness.
Dunne added: “The research reveals that there is an appetite for better information, including clear benefits in terms of assured health implications and the cost savings that can be made by consumers. Current advertising restrictions inevitably make it very difficult to reach smokers on the potential health benefits. This is particularly concerning when considering smokers over 55, who are most likely to suffer the ill effects of smoking. We currently have few ways to let them know that a switch to vaping could dramatically improve their health.