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Should Nicotine Warnings Be on All E-Cigarettes?

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A new study shows smokers would be more inclined to vape if harsh health warnings were at least toned down.

Stern health warnings may deter some smokers, or at least cause them to cut down on their habit. But the same messages on e-cigarettes could be stopping smokers from switching to vaping and getting healthier, which would be a huge public health opportunity missed. 

That's not what we think here at Electric Tobacconist, but instead according to the results of a new study carried out by researchers at London South Bank University (LSBU) and funded by Cancer Research UK. We — and everyone else who follows vaping news and developments — know from Public Health England that e-cigarettes are almost completely harmless compared to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

By law, all e-cigarette products must carry a warning advising users of a severe risk to their health if they use them — including starter vape kits that don't even contain any nicotine or e-liquid. This is also the case with vaping supplies like coils and tanks, leaving many in the vaping community to question the advice of such off-putting labelling.

Perceptions of Vaping Warning Messages

The LSBU researchers carried out an online study from January 2018 to January 2019 involving 2,495 adults in Britain, around half of whom were smokers and the rest non-smokers. Their task was to say how addictive and harmful they thought e-cigarettes were, as well as their effectiveness in helping smokers to quit. 

They were asked their opinion of the European Union's current warning label on e-cigarettes: 

This product contains nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for non-smokers.

And a revised warning that could be used as alternative labelling:

Use of this product is much less harmful than smoking.

Participants, and especially non-smokers, had a more negative view of e-cigarettes after reading the EU message, rating vapes as more addictive and also more harmful. The reduced-risk message did not alter non-smokers’ minds, but smokers said they felt that e-cigs were less harmful after reading it — and it would make them more inclined to buy e-cigarettes. 

'A Big Public Health Advantage'

Lead researcher Lynne Dawkins said the participants' views showed there could be a major public health benefit to having toned-down health labelling on vape gear.

"Our findings suggest that displaying a reduced-risk message on e-cigarette packs — such as, ‘Use of this product is much less harmful than smoking’ — may increase the number of smokers trying e-cigarettes without resulting in an increase in uptake by non-smokers. Ultimately, if more smokers switch to e-cigarettes, there will be fewer smoking-related deaths and diseases."

Kruti Shrotri of Cancer Research UK said that "research so far shows that vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco and can help people to stop smoking. This study helps to build evidence around what can be done to help smokers quit tobacco by switching to e-cigarettes while ensuring non-smokers don’t start using them."

New Govt Urged to Act on Vape Health Labels

The researchers said that following their study, they were "calling on the government to reconsider the severity of health warnings on e-cigarette packaging" after their research "reveals that displaying reduced risk messages on e-cigarette packaging encourages tobacco smokers to switch to vaping without enticing non-smokers to start vaping."

Perhaps the new government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pay heed to the study's results. As the UK is now set to leave the EU anyway, we will no longer be in the EU's legal jurisdiction and have to comply with its health warnings. Plus, the PM says he's making the NHS his "top priority" — what better way than to help keep people out of the country's overstrained hospitals in the first place?

Are you a smoker and are perhaps deterred by warnings on e-cigarette products? Why not try one of our vape kits — some with three free e-liquids — and see if it would help you to kick your smoking habit for good and get healthy as a result? We have free and fast shipping on orders over various amounts — and friendly customer service you can rely on.