For or against e-cigarettes to help quit smoking? Scientific data is currently still lacking to determine the risks associated with vaping, but some health professionals agree that electronic cigarettes could make it possible, under certain conditions, to put an end to tobacco. An idea that is not unanimous among the French, according to a recent survey.
Daily use of electronic cigarettes tripled between 2017 and 2022 among French adolescents aged 17, going from 1.9% to 6.2%, according to the ESCAPAD 2022 survey. In the United States, the The number of young vapers declined in 2021, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, but nearly two million young people aged 11 to 18 still use electronic cigarettes on a regular basis. Data which alarms some health professionals who, if they partly believe that e-cigarettes can help quit smoking with strict supervision, also fear that it may encourage daily smoking. In the middle of a tobacco-free month, a survey carried out by Toluna-Harris Interactive for Europe Vapotage focuses on the French view of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products. It appears that the e-cigarette is considered less dangerous than tobacco, but that the French remain mixed about its effectiveness in quitting smoking.
A bad image of vaping
More than six in ten French people (63%) consider regular consumption of classic vaping products dangerous, as do intensive playing of video games, but less than regular consumption of sugar (69%). More than two thirds of those surveyed (69%) consider the regular consumption of single-use disposable electronic cigarettes, also called puffs, to be dangerous, much less than the regular consumption of tobacco (84%). A majority of respondents (57%) also say they have a bad image of traditional vaping products. A figure which rises to 71% for puffs, which are supposed to be banned soon.
If they generally judge vaping products to be less dangerous than tobacco, the French are not unanimous on the question either. Only a third of respondents ultimately affirm that the electronic cigarette is a less dangerous product than tobacco, while 36% consider the dangerousness of these two products to be equivalent. Smokers and vapers do not agree at all on the subject: 21% of exclusive smokers think that electronic cigarettes are less dangerous than tobacco, compared to 37% of former smokers, 58% of regular “vapo smokers”, and 72% of exclusive vapers. Is it ultimately up to non-smokers and non-vapers to decide? Only 23% of them believe that e-cigarettes are less dangerous.
If, however, we are interested in the smoke and odor given off by tobacco and electronic cigarettes, the French give the advantage to the second. Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) say that it is in any case less annoying in society than tobacco, compared to only 9% who think the opposite. Study participants also see e-cigarettes as a source of savings compared to tobacco, up to 37%. Exclusive vapers are even more likely to share this opinion (70%), compared to exclusive smokers (36%). Regular “vape smokers”, who can compare more, are 63% who think so.
It is not the question about the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes in the context of stopping smoking that will allow the panel to agree, on the contrary. Half believe it is an effective means, while the other half do not believe it. In detail, more than eight out of ten exclusive vapers (84%) consider this method to be effective, compared to 85% of regular “vapo smokers”, which may seem paradoxical – although we do not know how long they have been vaping, 48% of former smokers, and 41% of exclusive smokers. As for non-smokers and non-vapers, the figure drops to 35%.
The French are also worried about the risk of a vaper slipping into tobacco consumption, at 68%. All categories agree on the subject: 55% of exclusive vapers, 62% of regular “vaposmokers”, 71% of exclusive smokers. Finally, note that 60% of tobacco smokers, including “vape smokers”, could consider switching to exclusive vaping to replace tobacco, including 70% of those under 35. A figure that has been steadily increasing since September 2020, where 38% of people concerned said they were considering this alternative.
This survey was carried out online, from October 6 to 12, 2023, among a sample of 3,204 people representative of French people aged 18 and over.