New survey of smoking, tobacco and nicotine use shows trends

By Gil Ross — Jun 12, 2015
A new Reuters survey confirms what those interested and involved in smoking and tobacco-related issues have observed: more and more Americans are using e-cigarettes and vapor products (vaping), to quit or reduce their consumption of deadly cigarettes.

E-vapor ArrayA new survey of smoking, tobacco and nicotine use by American adults underwritten by Reuters and Ipsos revealed that about one in ten of us vape use e-cigarettes or one of the 2nd or 3rd generation vapor products to reduce their consumption of cigarettes, or quit smoking entirely. (Ipsos is an international market research firm).

The poll was conducted between May 19 and June 4; respondents numbered 5,679 adults. Among those under the age of 40, 15 percent were vapers. (The most recent CDC survey showed that 17.8 percent of adults smoked cigarettes, equivalent to somewhat over 42 million smokers; the levels of teenage smoking declined over the same interval, from 2012 to 2013, to historically low level of 9.2 percent).

An amazing 70 percent of the current vapers stated that they began to use e-cigs/vapor products within the past year. A recent report by a tobacco financial analyst estimated that total sales of these products had spiked to $2.5 billion in 2014, with continued growth likely absent outside pressures from regulators. The analyst in question, Wells-Fargo s Bonnie Herzog, has also predicted that vaping will overtake smoking within the next decade (again, if the marketplace is not regulated into extinction).

Almost half of users surveyed said they were motivated to use the devices because of friends or family, while almost 40 percent said they were persuaded by the ability to smoke indoors and the lower cost over time.

About 80 percent of vapers said using the devices was a good way to help people quit smoking, according to the poll. By contrast, fewer than 40 percent of all adults surveyed felt that way.

If the e-vapor industry is allowed to compete with cigarettes on a level playing field, there is no question that the combustible cigarette industry will wither away over time. Smokers, although demographically less-educated and poorer than non-smokers, are not stupid, as some members of the public health and academic communities seem to think they are. They are addicted to the combination of nicotine and the toxic sludge of hundreds of chemicals in tobacco smoke, but three-quarters of them want to quit. Given the opportunity to improve their health and well-being, not to mention the elimination of nasty second-hand smoke, they will take up vaping at accelerating rates over the next few years, as this survey says. On the other hand, if the prohibitionists at the FDA, CDC, and elsewhere get their way and deem the industry into the arms of big tobacco, a tragedy of historic proportions will be the result.

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