Misconceptions Surrounding Nicotine Prevent Smokers from Switching to Less Harmful Alternatives
The world of vaping has undergone monumental changes in the last seven years, particularly in technological advancements. However, some issues remain as relevant and true now as they were in 2015. One of these is the misconceptions surrounding the health effects of nicotine.
In 2015, the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) commissioned a study which found that 90 percent of people wrongly thought that nicotine was harmful. The independent charity was alarmed at this finding and stressed that nicotine was no more harmful than caffeine. They called for better public education to dispel this misconception.
This misconception is still one of the primary factors that prevent smokers from switching to reduced-risk alternatives such as vaping. Educating smokers about the health effects of nicotine is therefore of vital importance if the UK’s 2030 smoke-free ambitions are to be achieved, as stated in the Khan Review.
The RSPH clarified that nicotine is harmful in cigarettes because it is combined with other harmful substances such as tar and arsenic. It is one of the prime reasons people become dependent on cigarettes. In contrast, electronic cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy contain nicotine but not the harmful substances found in cigarettes. These harmful substances include carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde, toxic metals such as lead and arsenic, and toxic gases such as hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide.
It is concerning that the perception that it is the harmful compound in cigarettes still exists seven years after the RSPH highlighted this issue. Even worse, there are some with an anti-tobacco harm reduction agenda who want to change the “quit smoking” message to “quit nicotine” instead. It would make more sense to educate smokers on the relative risks between smoking, vaping, and other alternatives so they can make informed decisions.
To effectively address underage vaping, the law should be enforced robustly, and retailers who sell to children should face heavy fines and other sanctions. More attention should also be focused on getting smokers off deadly cigarettes before attempting to get people off consuming relatively harmless nicotine.
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