E-cigarette users are much more hopeful that the devices will help them quit smoking than the general public is, including people who just smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes, according to a new French survey.
“Vapers” (people who use e-cigarettes) also are much less concerned about how possible toxins in e-cigarette vapors might affect them and those around them, said lead study author Dr. Sebastien Couraud, a doctor of respiratory medicine and thoracic oncology at Lyon Sud Hospital and Lyon University Cancer Institute in France.
“E-cigarette users appear to have a different view of reality, compared with everyone else,” Couraud said. “Their reality is elsewhere.”
Couraud presented his findings Monday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to create an aerosol that delivers nicotine, flavor and other chemicals when inhaled by the user.
Couraud said that the public opinion his team captured appears to mirror ongoing expert debate over whether e-cigarettes can actually help people quit smoking and whether e-cigarette vapors might contain toxic chemicals.
About 69 percent of e-cigarette users believe the devices can help a person quit tobacco smoking, compared with just 31 percent of the general population, researchers found.
Many e-cigarette users genuinely appear to want to quit smoking tobacco, Couraud said. They are more likely to be worried about dying from lung cancer than people who only smoke tobacco, he suggested. E-cigarette users are also more likely to think that using e-cigs will reduce their risk of lung cancer death, the survey revealed.
The findings from this survey highlight why regulation of e-cigarettes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is needed as soon as possible, said ASCO spokesperson Dr. Jyoti Patel, an associate professor of hematology and oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“For people who are addicted to nicotine, e-cigarettes don’t help,” said Patel. “They are still addicted, and they use a lot. It’s not a bridge to abstinence. It’s a way for them to stay addicted in a restaurant or an airplane, where they are unable to smoke.”
And, indeed, users of e-cigarettes tend to be much more dependent on nicotine than traditional cigarette smokers, based on a standard test of nicotine addiction, Couraud said. About 58 percent of e-cigarette users registered as very or highly addicted, compared with 46 percent of people who only smoked tobacco.
In January, ASCO issued a call for regulation of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems, in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research, Patel noted.
For the study, Couraud and his colleagues surveyed nearly 1,500 residents of France. Ninety-three (6 percent) of those surveyed were e-cigarette users, and 74 of them also still smoked tobacco cigarettes, according to the survey.
About 33 percent of e-cigarette users in the survey believed that the devices are effective in reducing deaths from lung cancer, compared with 18 percent of smokers and 12 percent of the general population.
E-cigarette users also parted ways with popular opinion over whether they should worry about toxins in the vapor they inhale.
About 68 percent of current e-cigarette users in the study said that e-cig vapors are less harmful than cigarette smoke for the user, and 87 percent said the vapors pose less of a threat to those around them than secondhand cigarette smoke would.
By comparison, around 40 percent of the general French public felt that e-cigarette vapor is less harmful than cigarette smoke for the user, and about 55 percent were less concerned about e-cig vapors than cigarette smoke.
“Probably they aren’t completely wrong, because we know that e-cigarettes are less toxic than traditional cigarettes,” Couraud said. “But there still is some toxicity, and they have a low awareness of that.”
Couraud and Patel both said that American opinions of e-cigarettes likely are similar to those found in this French survey.
Dr. Gregory Masters said he completely understands conflicted public opinion over e-cigarettes.
“I do have safety concerns for e-cigarettes because nicotine is bad for you, and we don’t know all of the risks with e-cigarettes,” said Masters, an oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Del.
“But I struggle when I get asked by patients, should I use e-cigarettes? I don’t want to condone e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative, but could it be a less dangerous alternative? It could be,” he added.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, e-cigarettes haven’t been fully studied, so consumers don’t know:
- the potential risks posed by the devices,
- how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled,
- whether there are any benefits to be gained from the products.
By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay
Copyright © 2015 HealthDay. All rights reserved. Photo by Jonny Williams via Flickr.
There are a couple of shocking things about this – for me the most striking is that of the 93 e-cigarette users (and why was this given in words not numerals?), only 68% said that vapour is less harmful than cigarette smoke for the user! That just shows the level of disinformation that tobacco control has fed to the French public via sensationalist, click-bait driven, uncritical media.
The second shocking thing is the sneering tone that Couraud uses. I will grant that the reality of vapers is ‘elsewhere’ – that’s because we actually READ the scientific studies, all of them, and have quickly learned to spot the flaws in much of the crackpot ‘science’ that is based on unrealistic usage of e-cigarettes.
As for Dr Patel – presumably he also wouldn’t recommend NRT – since that also contains nicotine – as a means of smoking cessation?
I would like to see some justification for the claim that nicotine is harmful when consumed by means other than lit tobacco, similarly for the addictive properties.
Expert opinion in the UK and most of Europe is that the use of e-cigarettes is, at MINIMUM, 95% less harmful than the use of lit tobacco.
As regards ASCO – let’s take a look at who funds them shall we? Among those who have funded them by more than $1M we find AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Pfizer all of whom make either nicotine replacement therapies or other smoking cessation drugs such as varenicline and buproprion. I would hazard that a few of their other pharmaceutical donors have their fingers in the smoking cessation and smoking related disease treatment pies too. Could this be considered a conflict of interest on the part of ASCO?
To me this article sounds like bought and paid for propaganda put out by Big Tobacco. I quit a 35 year 2 pack a day habit by vaping. The people that I associate with also quit long time tobacco habits by vaping. I have also stepped down my own nicotine addiction to zero. I started at 18 milligrams and I’m at zero right now. I have been tobacco free for 18 months. I literally quit overnight by vaping. I make my own eliquid and wrap my own coils. It’s not rocket science. I use ONLY components made in the USA. I don’t use anything made in another country. My cost to vape per month is one fifth of what I was spending on tobacco. This is the only method out there that gives the user total control over everything. Those other stories about the level of toxins found in eliquid is complete BS. Those levels were achieved by heating the eliquid to a point that nobody could vape. I’m not saying that vaping is totally safe. That would be stupid. Nothing is totally safe. Vaping is SAFER than traditional tobacco by leaps and bounds. The toxins are far below the established levels set forth by the FDA and the CDC. The only real issue is how much money our government, FDA, CDC, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma are going to lose. Billions of dollars in taxes, bribe money, approved methods that don’t work, and death profits. That’s the real issue. These agencies could care less about what you put into your bodies as long as they can collect all that money. If they really did care about public health, then cigarettes would have been banned a long time ago. That’s the truth. It is always more profitable to treat the symptoms of something for a long period of time instead of offering a possible solution for a one time fee. It’s all about money. Myself and about 4 million other ex-smokers that are now vapers can tell you exactly what it’s all about. Smoking is DEAD. Vaping IS the future. And the future is NOW.
This conference speech (as indicated in this article, is not a peer-reviewed study), and seems to simply be reporting public perception.
Without wasting the readers time,how is public perception framed? Does the public generally read journals or does the majority of the public simply follow the various media sources eg paper or on-line press,TV etc
Can we in all honesty state that the media Worldwide is free of bias/propaganda and offer balanced reporting
I include what ASH_LDN recently reported in the UK ASH.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_891.pdf , which states a totally different result and offers an alternative perspective .
Dr Masters seems to adopt a fair and open-minded,pragmatic approach, in stark contrast to the dogmatic quotes from others .
Researchers and experts who recognise that e-cigarettes offer a reduced harm approach are increasing – see https://sciencecig.wordpress.com/move/, it does seem perverse that e-cigarette users are facing a continuous campaign of disinformation, whereas the objective of Public Health should be simply to reduce traditional smoking and embrace ANY and ALL methods to achieve that goal .
Many e-cig users have tried the ‘traditional’, ‘approved’ methods multiple times and found that they simply did not work. There is simply not one solution that should be promoted, but a range of products that smokers can find which is the best solution for them
Addiction mentions and discussions contained in this feature were not particularly helpful, use the word dependence please . Just as a by the way please look at this from Prof Etter + Prof Eissenberg regarding comparisons of e-cigs to nicotine gum http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25561385 which clearly states the opposite of your discussion