Every 2 years the European Commission publishes its Eurobarometer results. This is a survey taken across all nation states and can cover just one subject or a multitude. The most recent survey included tobacco and vaping; the survey questioned nearly 28,000 people. The results have just been released and it covers some good and bad news for vapers. It should also show the impact (if any) on the new laws covered in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), however as the TPD has only been in place for a year the results of the survey wont yet show the full impact either positive or negative until the next survey expected in 2019/20.
One of the questions asked was if people thought ecigs were harmful to the health of those that use them.
It is worth noting that the wording of the question may have caused some confusion. Do you think they are harmful or not to the health of those who use them isn’t necessarily a yes or no question. Italy seems to come out the best here, the UK sadly lacking in 7th place. In the Netherlands 85% of people asked thought they were harmful. The UK has tried to implement the TPD in the softest way possible and attempted to encourage people to switch to ecigs rather than stay smokers, but there are still regular scare stories in the press about the danger levels of ecigs, imagine what the press in the Netherlands must be like.
The commission doesn’t seem to think that vaping has helped many smokers quit tobacco; the survey reports that only 14% stopped smoking entirely with an ecig, 10% managed to stop but started again and 17% managed to reduce their tobacco usage but not stop smoking totally. Dramatically different figures compared to the UK which has embraced vaping.
The socio-demographic differences from respondents that have at least tried an ecig are:
Men (17%) are more likely to say they have tried an ecig compared to women (12%). More young people (aged under 40) have tried an ecig than those aged over 40. Those who stayed in education longer are more likely to try one than those who left at 15 or younger. Those who find themselves struggling to pay bills are also more likely to have tried an ecig than those who never struggle. 47% of people who have tried to quit smoking have tried an ecig to do it and those who have smoked for longer are less likely to even try an ecig.
The types of flavour people enjoy the most was also covered on the survey, the results are very similar to what I would have expected.
I would like to know what spontaneous tastes like and how do 1% of the people asked not know what flavours they like? Considering the most popular flavours are fruits this does give a strong argument to the case of not banning certain flavours.
The question that caused me the most concern is the question about banning ecigs in public places. 63% of respondents thought ecigs should be banned in the same places as tobacco with just 26% against it. 40% think ecigs should be covered in shops like tobacco (Ireland was as high as 80%). The ban on flavours is a slightly more positive result roughly 48% are against it while about 37% support the option. As expected those who were vapers answered the flavour ban question as 84% against 9% for. Why 9% of vapers would want to ban a flavour is beyond me though.
As I said earlier the new rules have only been in place for a year and have only been enforced properly for a few weeks now (a year’s grace was given to get everything in order) so no big impact can yet been seen in these results compared to previous surveys, the interesting ones will be the next survey in 2019/20. Then we will start to find out if the TPD was the huge success story of the decade. Or was it the huge disaster the vaping advocates claimed it would be.