The Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) has released a new report on tobacco harm reduction. The independent nonprofit organisation has been a longtime vaping advocate and launched the World Vaper’s Alliance in 2022.
The CCC takes on a wide range of causes outside of vaping. Some of their campaigns include topics like:
Their reports are well worth a read for anyone interested in rights and liberty.
Their vaping report is focused on surveys in France and Germany. However, it has a lot of interesting points that will resonate with a UK audience.
In particular, it examines some of the myths and misconceptions around vaping. Understanding these falsehoods is important for vapers worldwide if we want to convince people to quit smoking by using a provably safer alternative.
While I urge you to read the report, here are some key highlights that can shine a light on how government policy is failing smokers around the world.
But I warn you, some of the statistics are pretty shocking.
One of the strangest aspects of the report was the lack of knowledge about harm reduction in Germany. Only 20% of German doctors said they know the term “harm reduction”.
That’s a surprisingly low number, which could indicate an overall attitude to addiction in the country’s healthcare system. Indeed, that thesis is supported by the finding that most German doctors don’t see vaping as a harm-reduction tool.
Misconceptions about the dangers of vaping are a roadblock to encouraging people to try safer alternatives. One of the most persistent and baffling myths is that e-cigarettes are as or more harmful than cigarettes.
The study shows that 33% of people in France believe this myth, with the numbers in Germany a shocking 43%. But before we shake our heads too fast, the numbers in the UK aren’t much better at 33%.
Another troubling statistic — and perhaps a condemnation of the French and German education systems — is that almost three-quarters of smokers believe nicotine causes cancer.
Similar misconceptions have been shown in US studies from over a decade ago. It’s troubling that we still haven’t found a way to get people the facts in the information age.
Advice from doctors can be influential for people who want to stop smoking. Per the CCC survey, 29% of smokers in France and 45% haven’t been given any advice on how to stop smoking by their doctor.
Of those who have, only 30% (France) and 15% (Germany) say the advice was helpful. Indeed, the report suggests that many doctors don’t recommend vaping because it “doesn’t break the habit”.
The report goes on to lament the fact that doctors aren’t staying on top of the research around vaping and harm reduction. They quote Bernd Mayer, professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Graz, Austria, who says:
“Doctors enjoy a high level of trust in the public and could increase quit rates among smokers. Looking at the survey, the lack of knowledge of GPs about tobacco harm reduction is concerning.”
The CCC report is eye-opening. It lays bare that myths, misinformation, and willful ignorance are contributing to the number of people who are still smoking.
Traditional methods to wean the public off cigarettes have not had the desired impact. Vaping, on the other hand, has played a considerable role in smoking reduction during the short time it has been available.
While this survey centred on France and Germany, some of its themes will be all too familiar to UK readers.