E-cigarette companies have been trying for years to rebrand as a public health solution to smoking. Most Americans aren’t buying it, a
new survey from tobacco control advocates suggests.To get more news
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Some 59% of Americans said they do not believe the industry is working
to “be part of the solution to reduce the health effects of smoking,” in
a survey of 1,200 people conducted by the Truth Initiative and shared
exclusively with STAT.
Juul, Vuse, Njoy, and other e-cigarette makers have long insisted that, despite concerns about the impact their products have had on youth
rates of tobacco use, they remain an important tool for helping adults
quit smoking.It’s still not clear if that’s true. The National Academies
of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said in 2018 that fully
switching from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes minimizes exposure
to harmful chemicals, but they also found “limited evidence” of the
effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aide.
Peer-reviewed studies that suggest e-cigarettes are a useful cessation
tool have begun to emerge, and leading tobacco companies say they are
conducting numerous studies to test whether their products can be used
to quit. Vaping companies are planning to submit these studies to the
Food and Drug Administration by May, the date by which they must request
formal approval from regulators to stay on the market.
The industry has also launched aggressive public relations campaigns to rebrand themselves as a solution to high rates of smoking. Company
CEOs have been penning op-eds touting the health benefits of their
products and publicly pleading with lawmakers not to overregulate the
industry. Philip Morris, the maker of the vapor product IQOS, even
launched an “unsmoke” media campaign earlier this year that included a
song written by Wyclef Jean.
The new survey, however, suggests the efforts might not be working.
Beyond those who don’t believe the industry’s argument, 77% said they had an “unfavorable” view of the e-cigarette industry, versus 12% that
had a favorable view. That’s just 4 points better than the respondents’
view of tobacco companies writ large.
“Since its start, the vaping industry and its adult consumers have been
subject to smear campaigns from activist groups and bureaucrats that
value prohibition more than helping adult smokers quit,” said Gregory
Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping
advocacy organization. “With polling showing that the majority of
Americans still inaccurately believe that nicotine vaping products were
responsible for recent illicit THC-linked illnesses and deaths, it is
not surprising that similar numbers have negative opinions of the