In the news: Eurobarometer Report
A new report into the attitude of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes suggests that there is a real opportunity across Europe to help people make more informed lifestyle choices1.
The 2020 Eurobarometer study is an important indicator of people’s changing behaviours and demonstrates the importance of information about and access to reduced risk products*†
The report, Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes1, shows that almost 60 per cent of European smokers or ex-smokers have used e-cigarettes successfully to either reduce or quit smoking, a significant rise compared to the last study in 2017.
While vapour products, and BAT's brands of e-cigarettes, are neither medically authorised smoking cessation products nor marketed as such, more than 30 per cent of respondents said that alternative products helped them to stop smoking entirely – almost twice the number from the 2017 report. More than 25 per cent of people said that the devices had helped them to reduce tobacco consumption – a figure that stood at only 10 per cent in 2017.
In terms of choices, 11 per cent said they used electronic cigarettes or similar devices to stop smoking (up just one per cent since 2017), and 2 per cent used heated tobacco products (previously this was zero).
However, the report highlights the risks of tougher rules being imposed on e-cigarettes and what that will mean for smokers. For instance, it suggests that 64 per cent of vapers enjoy non-tobacco flavours. And yet the EU is considering a total ban on the use of flavours in e-cigarettes which would be an impediment to encouraging smokers to switch to less risky alternatives.*†
A significant body of evidence shows that completely switching to e-cigarettes can reduce the risk of harm caused by continued smoking and yet the Eurobarometer report shows that many people are unaware of this information.
Most respondents who have never – or infrequently – used these products believe they should be regulated as strictly as cigarettes. Most of those with no or little experience of tobacco, heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes believe their sale should be highly restricted.
This data underscores the importance of sharing information regarding the risk profile of e-cigarettes and other New Category products. This information will help address consumer risk misperceptions regarding these products. Further dissemination of accurate information will also encourage those who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch completely to less risky alternatives.*†
However, the Eurobarometer study is also important because the results indicate that the great majority of non-smokers are not attracted by e-cigarettes or vaping. The evidence from across Europe makes clear that the presence of vaping products on the market is not encouraging more people to smoke. The so-called ‘gateway effect’ that many have suggested would result from new, tobacco-free products is largely unsubstantiated.
Instead, people are using vapour products for two key reasons. First, they enjoy them – they are simple to use, practical and less risky2 than conventional tobacco products. Second, users also see vaping as a change if in their lifestyle choices. Following their decision to switch from combustible cigarettes, vaping has become an alternative means of satisfying their desires.
However, much of the public still believes that these alternative products are more harmful to health than public health bodies estimate, and therefore favour stricter regulations and control policies.
To be clear, vaping products are not cessation devices, they are reduced-risk*† alternatives to cigarettes for those who would otherwise continue to smoke. The vaping market is one of extraordinary innovation, and our scientists at BAT continue to push at the boundaries, constantly learning, adapting and innovating. To make products simpler to use, to fit with personalised lifestyles and to satisfy individual tastes.
*Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk free and are addictive.
†Our products as sold in the US, including Vuse, Velo, Grizzly, Kodiak, and Camel Snus, are subject to FDA regulation and no reduced-risk claims will be made as to these products without agency clearance.
1. Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes, European Commission, February 2021, View Link
2. McNeill, A., Brose, L.S., Calder, R., Bauld, L., and Robson, D. (2020). Vaping in England: an evidence update including mental health and pregnancy, March 2020: a report commissioned by Public Health England. London: Public Health England.