A new study led by Professor Richard Edwards from the University of Otago, Wellington, a component of the University of Otago Medical School, has found that New Zealand's smokers are increasingly aware of e-cigarettes and are using them more than they ever have before to quit smoking.
E-Cigarettes Are Contributing To Lower Smoking Rates
According to Professor Edwards, the study's findings suggest that "e-cigarettes are contributing to reducing smoking prevalence and to achieving the goal of Aotearoa becoming smokefree by 2025."
The study's findings show that daily use of e-cigarettes was highest among those who had recently quit smoking (23 per cent). Current smokers using e-cigarettes accounted for 8 per cent and those ages 18-24 accounted for 18 per cent while older age groups accounted for 10 per cent. This led Edwards to state that e-cigarette use "needs to be greater among older age groups" if e-cigarettes are to contribute substantially to a reduction in smoking rates.
Misconceptions Related To Vaping Remain Common
One particularly unnerving finding of the study is the 39 per cent of participants that, as Professor Edwards stated, "incorrectly believed that e-cigarettes were as or more harmful than smoking cigarettes," which is a misconception that runs contrary to what the science has shown us. According to Public Health England's latest independent e-cigarette evidence review, vaping is far less harmful than smoking.
Edwards noted that such incorrect beliefs stress the importance of public education as it relates to vaping. He noted that efforts to educate the public like the Ministry of Health's Vaping Facts website, which makes clear that vaping is less harmful than smoking and that it can help smokers quit smoking, "could inform smokers about the relative costs and harmfulness of smoking and e-cigarettes to encourage people who smoke to quit or switch completely to vaping, and encourage people who smoke to visit specialist retailers to get expert advice about the best vaping products for them."
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Saving Money Motivates Smokers To Switch
The study's participants most commonly reported saving money to be what motivated them to vape instead of smoke. While vaping is often less expensive than smoking, it is typically much less expensive for New Zealanders and Australians due to the sky-high cost of cigarettes in New Zealand and Australia. If you're wondering how much money you can save by switching to vaping then use the savings calculator on our homepage to find out!
The study, which was funded by the Health Research Council and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, examined survey data that involved over 1,100 people between the years 2016 and 2017 and over 1,000 people in the year 2018 -- all of whom had either smoked or recently quit smoking. The more recent dataset from 2018 included 400 Māori people.
All of the study's participants were recruited from the nationally-representative New Zealand Health Survey.
Study participants were asked a series of questions, including whether they are aware of e-cigarettes, whether they use e-cigarettes, their reasons for using e-cigs, and their beliefs pertaining to electronic cigarettes and vaping.
Smoke-Free NZ By 2025
For New Zealand to become smoke-free by 2025, Professor Edwards believes that considerably more action is required. According to Edwards, electronic cigarettes are certainly making a useful contribution to reaching this goal, "but much more is needed" and this includes a comprehensive strategy "that makes smoked tobacco products less appealing, addictive, and accessible to complement the impact of alternative products like e-cigarettes in reducing smoking prevalence."