Misinformation about vaping is widespread and one of the main obstacles for smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives. Despite its indisputable successes in bringing about the end of the smoking health crisis, vaping is still subject to a wide array of myths. Among many politicians, the media and the general public, we see a fundamental and pervasive lack of understanding surrounding the topic of tobacco harm reduction — including the very meaning of harm reduction, the importance of nicotine alternatives, and misperceptions of the effects of nicotine itself.
Tobacco harm reduction has proven to be the most successful smoking cessation strategy in history. Ignorance and false claims have impaired and sometimes even reversed the successful adaptation of less harmful nicotine consumption such as through vaping or snus. In order to break through the ignorance surrounding tobacco harm reduction, the World Vapers’ Alliance joins the vaping community efforts to tackle the most common myths about harm reduction and provides scientific information to help smokers and politicians to make the science-based decision.
Despite the research and numerous studies, many already debunked myths around vaping continue to influence political debates, the attitude of the general public, and media coverage.
We need to educate and empower people to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Let’s work together to separate fact from fiction and ensure that accurate information is available to everyone.
Vaping is wrongly believed to be more harmful than smoking by many. British public health authorities have confirmed that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, and Kings College London agrees that vaping reduces exposure to toxicants that promote cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease. Most harm from smoking comes from toxicants in tobacco and combustion products. When these toxic delivery modes are absent, nicotine consumption is much less harmful.
Reality: Vaping has helped millions of smokers to quit & is LESS addictive than smoking.
Despite the myth that vaping is more addictive than smoking and ineffective for quitting, scientific evidence and real-life evidence suggests otherwise. Vapes are a useful tool for smokers who are trying to quit smoking and eventually nicotine, as they can help to gradually reduce nicotine dependence. The Royal College of Physicians has even stated that vapes have a low addiction potential and are primarily used by smokers as a means of quitting.
Reality: Nicotine is not the problem – toxins in cigarettes are.
Smokers die from tobacco smoke’s harmful ingredients, toxic chemicals, not nicotine. According to the British NHS nicotine is relatively harmless, and vaping is a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Switching to vaping with or without nicotine improves health. Although, nicotine is crucial in helping smokers quit. Nicotine’s minor cardiovascular effects are almost harmless; it doesn’t increase the risks of severe illness or mortality. As we know, nicotine is not a problem in conventional nicotine replacement therapy. Therefore it cannot be a bigger problem in vaping.
Reality: Vaping is way less harmful than smoking and reduces health risks substantially.
Some believe that e-cigarettes cause EVALI and popcorn lung, but scientific evidence suggests otherwise. EVALI is linked to illicit THC vape products with vitamin E acetate. Popcorn lung was caused by diacetyl, which is no longer in e-cigarette liquids, and there is no confirmed link to e-cigarettes.
E-cigarette vapour and cigarette smoke may look similar, but they are considerably different. Smoke results from combustion, releasing thousands of harmful chemicals. Vapour, on the other hand, contains the same chemicals found in the vaporized substance. Vape liquids’ compounds are common food ingredients and are safe to ingest, unlike cigarettes which create over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. The cancer risk from vaping is 0.4% compared to 2.4% from smoking. Secondhand vaping is also not harmful, as vape aerosols do not contain carcinogens like tobacco smoke, and bystanders inhale negligible levels of nicotine. Those near a vaper inhale 100 times less nicotine than a passive smoker.
In many countries, daily smokers are at their lowest recorded levels. Vaping has been credited with helping people quit smoking, and studies show it’s twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy. The gateway claim is not supported by evidence, as only 1.5% of non-smokers [in the UK] currently vape and smoking rates keep falling. The highly respected health NGO Cochrane and various health agencies recommend vaping as a means to quit smoking due to its effectiveness.
Reality: More than two thirds of adult vapers use flavours other than tobacco.
Critics who seek to ban vaping flavours claim they’re only used by minors and serve as a gateway to smoking. However, flavors are primarily designed for adults to quit smoking by masking the tobacco taste. In fact, over two-thirds of vapers regularly use non-tobacco flavours. Flavours not only help smokers quit but also reduce the likelihood of relapse. Yale School of Public Health reports flavoured vaping devices increase adult smoking cessation odds by 230%. Banning flavours could result in half of vapers returning to smoking or the black market.
Reality: There is no evidence of a gateway effect in youths to smoking. Most of them try vaping after having already started smoking.
Restricting vaping based on the claim of a youth epidemic is not supported by evidence and in most countries it is already illegal for underage people to vape. Studies show that youth smoking has decreased in the US, Germany, and the UK since e-cigarette use began to increase. Environmental factors such as parental smoking habits and genetic predisposition are more likely to lead children to vaping or smoking. Evidence suggests that vaping may divert high-risk youth away from smoking, and most teenagers try vaping after already starting to smoke. A review of fifteen studies in 2019 found no evidence of a true gateway effect in youths.
Reality: Higher vaping taxes have a negative impact on public health.
Tax increases on vaping products lead vapers to switch to cigarettes, especially among young adults. This, in turn, damages public health. Risk-based taxation, with lower taxes on less harmful products, is recommended to encourage smokers to switch. Restricting access to vaping products via high prices has unintended consequences, as users turn to the black market or smoking. Unregulated black market products are more harmful, as they don’t comply with safety regulations, posing a risk to users and public health.
Reality: Over 100 organisations agree that vaping is likely less harmful than smoking based on scientific principles, despite unknown long-term risks.
Are you tired of hearing conflicting reports about vaping and harm reduction and not knowing what to believe? Join the vaping community in their effort to debunk the most prevailing myths surrounding vaping.
There are many ways that you can get involved and help promote accurate information about vaping and harm reduction.
Spread the word about the myths and misconceptions to inform the community.
Together, we can make a difference!
The vaping community is providing a range of free resources and materials to support the messaging, including infographics and adaptable and shareable graphics. You can use these resources to promote accurate information about vaping and to help dispel myths.
Follow us on social media and share our posts and videos with your followers. Spread the word and help the vaping community raise awareness about the myths surrounding vaping. Don’t forget to use hashtags #VapingMythBusters #TruthOverLies
It’s time to beat smoking like the Swedes! By embracing harm reduction and alternative nicotine products like snus and vaping, Sweden is on track to become the first smoke-free country worldwide.
Our goal is to raise awareness about the Swedish success in tobacco harm reduction and encourage Swedes to celebrate their achievement. We will spread Sweden’s success story on the EU level, among EU member states and an international audience.