Public Ignorance About E-Cigarettes, In One Awful Poll
The University of Michigan is dealing bad news to vapers and e-cigarette supporters with a new poll showing stunning support for a raft of new regulations and taxes that could hamper the industry.
The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health showed that 92 percent of parents and 91 percent of teens think e-cigarettes should have health warnings, like traditional cigarettes.
The poll didn’t ask about the addictive nature of e-cigarettes thanks to their nicotine content, but simply whether they should be labeled the same as regular smokes.
The results will puzzle many medical professionals as there is no clear evidence about what the negative health effects of e-cigarettes are. There is, however, a strong consensus that the devices are significantly safer than regular cigarettes. A study by Public Health England concluded e-cigarettes are 95 percent less dangerous than regular cigarettes.
The poll suggested that the vast majority of parents and teens believe using e-cigarettes will encourage smoking among minors, 81 percent and 84 percent respectively. But again, there is little evidence to support this view aside from speculative op-eds.
In fact, a tougher policy on e-cigarettes could have the reverse effect, with one study suggesting states that banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors actually experienced a rising smoking rate. Every state with the exception of Pennsylvania and Michigan has introduced some form of regulation on the sale of vaping products to teenagers. According to the data, there is also little chance of adults taking up vaping and switching to tobacco.
A study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research by Rutgers School of Public Health concluded that “e-cigarettes have not been attracting adult non-smokers or promoting relapse in long-term former smokers. Moreover, the data are suggestive that some recent quitters may have done so with the assistance of e-cigarettes.”
The Rutgers authors added that the amount of experimentation with e-cigarettes among adults who have never smoked is “extremely low.” The original National Institute of Health shows that just 0.4 percent of adults who had never smoked tobacco were current vapers, using the device either every day or some days.
One the biggest challenges facing the e-cigarette industry is a skeptical Food And Drug Administration and an outright hostile group of Senate Democrats. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others recently demanded stricter regulation of the industry, including an outright ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Critics claim that flavored e-cigarettes will entice children and young people to take up vaping.
A full 64 percent of parents and 71 percent of teens agreed with banning candy or fruit-flavored e-cigarettes, according to the Michigan poll. But Cynthia Cabrera, executive director and president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, told The Daily Caller News Foundation the move will be counter-productive in getting people to quit smoking.
“Flavors also play an important aspect with helping cigarette smokers make the switch, with a recent study published in the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information confirming that sweet and dessert-type vapor flavors appealed much more to adults than non-smoking teens, and other studies confirming that the variance in flavors were ‘very important’ in people’s efforts to switch to e-cigs.”
But there appears to be no limit to which parents and high schoolers want to treat vapers in the same way as smokers, with 80 and 81 percent respectively supporting taxing e-cigarettes in the same way as regular tobacco.
Cabrera commented that “from a public health and policy perspective, we should be focusing on harm-reduction strategies rather than continuing to demonize a product that has the potential to improve the public health and save health care costs caused by tobacco smoking.”
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