How views on vaping differ in England, France & Germany

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WHAT WILL BE COVERED IN THIS ARTICLE

Misconceptions about Vaping are quite a common thing, and they tend to vary quite a lot, with some having a clear understanding that Vaping is a lot safer than smoking, whilst the other side believing it is the same, if not more harmful than tobacco and smoking.

Consumer Choice Centre have teamed up with the World Vapers Alliance and conducted a survey between the countries of France and Germany to find out what their beliefs are on Vaping, and the contrast in answers and results make for some very interesting reading. Let’s find out:

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Who are World Vapers Alliance?

In their own words:

“The World Vapers’ Alliance was established by and receives funding from the Consumer Choice Center. We are proud to have full independence in our work. We are committed to only representing the interests of consumers, empowering them to make informed decisions about their own health and advocating for consumer access to low-risk nicotine products such as vaping.”

I’ve previously mentioned them in some of my articles for the hard work they do and their commitment to ensuring only the correct information about Vaping is being distributed and people are being correctly educated. They are the originators of the “World Vape Day” celebration seen worldwide, and has had support and involvement from some of the juggernauts of the Vape world.

The Report

The report which I’m going to discuss here in this article was commissioned by the Consumer Choice Center in cooperation with the WVA where they conducted a survey between smokers in France and Germany as well as interviewing 30 different General Practitioners across the two countries. Their goal with this survey was to learn about the misperceptions about Vaping and the impact they are having.

They also used these survey results and compared them to other surveys conducted around the world and comparing the misconceptions in those countries comparing it to France and Germany. The results make for some interesting reading as I’ve mentioned and does show that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about Vaping and the true meaning of harm reduction, and reflects on what needs to be done to start correctly educating these countries.

Doctors show lack of knowledge when it comes to Harm reduction and the safety of Vaping

As mentioned, the survey asked 30 GPs across France and Germany some key questions to gain what their knowledge and understanding of harm reduction and vaping.

Shockingly, only 3 of the 15 Doctors asked in Germany even knew what the term “Harm reduction” meant or had even heard of it being used before. Yet in France, the majority of the 15 doctors asked there had heard of the term before, reassuring!

The other interesting contrast is that the GPs in Germany do not believe Vaping products to be a harm reduction tool, yet in France, GPs do believe they are a good harm reduction tool. And GPs in both countries are sceptical about Vaping, and would only recommend it to their patients AFTER they have tried every other method to quit smoking.

They compared this to other findings from around the globe, and discovered that 60% of all doctors in the United States believed that all Nicotine containing products, including vaping products, carried the same level of risk and harm as one another. This obviously shows that they will not have much forthcoming when it comes to recommending them to their patients.

Comparison to GPs in England: If you’ve read my previous article about stopping smoking here in England, you’ll know that Vaping is now taking pole position as the preferred method recommended by GPs to try and help people quit smoking.

The majority of GPs here in England are advocates of Vaping, and will refer people to their local stop smoking services to help them start their journey, whilst recommending the use of E-Cigarettes to their patients. The attitudes towards Vaping does vary though in the UK, with it not being considered a good method to quit smoking in Scotland and definitely not recommended by any GPs in Ireland. You can read more about this HERE.

Lack of knowledge shows in France and Germany

Worryingly, 33% of smokers in France and 43% of smokers in Germany believe that Vaping is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes, which is why they continue to smoke and not make the change. This is a clear indication that more education is needed within these countries.

What’s more concerning is the following results of the survey that I’m now going to discuss. It’s revealed that nearly 40% of all asked in both countries say that Vaping should be regulated the same way that Tobacco is, and 10% even say it should be a lot stricter regulations than what’s already in place for tobacco.

9% of smokers in both countries believe Vaping is the most harmful nicotine based product and a very very concerning 11% of smokers perceive cigarettes being the LEAST harmful nicotine product, absolutely baffling.

This really does prove that education on Vaping is not at the forefront in these countries, and people believing such things will harm the legitimacy of vaping, and potentially the future of vaping in the countries also. Beliefs like this is what some times leads to harsh restrictions and regulations being put in place by the powers that be, and the only people who suffer are current vapers who have made the transition from smoking to Vaping to help enrich their lives and benefit from harm reduction products.

Comparison to survey results in England: Action on Smoking and Health conduct a yearly survey amongst adults in the UK about Vaping and release the results for public viewing, and it always makes for interesting reading.

This year’s results showed that 33% of adults believe Vaping is as, if not more, harmful than smoking. With 42% of adults believing that Vaping is less harmful than smoking, which is now at the highest number it’s been in recent years so good to see.

They also asked current adult smokers the same questions, with 32% of them believing that Vaping is as, if not more harmful than smoking, which is considerably lower than those in France and Germany. The amount of smokers that think Vaping is less harmful than smoking sits at the same number of adults who do not smoke, which is 42%.

This shows that the education and information being distributed here in England is working and having a positive effect. Public Health England declared Vaping 95% safer than smoking back in 2016, and they recently reiterated it in their latest publication that was recently released for public reading. Other countries could learn from what is being done here, but they choose to ignore and make their own minds up which makes me wonder why that is.

The grand misconceptions about Nicotine

This is probably the most interesting point of the survey and of this article, and that is the misconceptions about Nicotine from the residents of France and Germany.

69% of smokers in France and 74% of smokers in Germany believe that Nicotine causes Cancer. And the majority of doctors have such negative attitudes towards Nicotine based products due to them believing it is harmful to health and has very high addictive potential. And a lot of the Doctors also listed long term health effects such as Lung disease being caused by Nicotine.

In the USA 57% of people asked in a separate survey believed that Nicotine is what causes cancer, and 80% of physicians falsely believe that Nicotine has cancer causing properties and is what is harmful within a cigarette.

This is really sad to read, that this many people believe Nicotine causes cancer and it’s a clear indication that people are not being given the right information via the correct channels to stop such a huge misconception from being believed.

Comparison to England: There are plenty of websites and publications that have been released here in England by reputable and trust worthy sources that state Nicotine is not harmful, nor does it cause cancer.

The biggest validation about Nicotine comes from the Cancer Research UK website, who clearly states that Nicotine is not responsible for the harmful effects of smoking, nor does it cause cancer. The full quote is underneath here to read:

Is nicotine harmful?

Nicotine is the chemical that makes cigarettes addictive. But it is not responsible for the harmful effects of smoking. Nicotine does not cause cancer, and people have used nicotine replacement therapy safely for many years. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is safe enough to be prescribed by doctors.

Again, another huge contrast shown in how far along we are in England compared to other countries when it comes to education about harm reduction, and we have hugely known and respected companies and charities validating the safety of Vaping, and not feeding out misinformation or misconceptions to people, instead they are trying their best to educate people into knowing what is safe and what isn’t.

Conclusion

It is clear to see that there is a significant gap between not only France and Germany, but also England added in to the mix when it comes to scientific facts about Vaping and Nicotine, and how different each countries views are, both from citizens as well as medical professionals.

I believe England is very much forward thinking and ahead when it comes to harm reduction, and the beliefs that Vaping could indeed be the future of helping people successfully quit smoking, and feel that other countries could benefit from simply looking and listening and hopefully learning from our methods and approach to the subject to then adopt the same stance within their own country.

Negative beliefs, misinformation, misconception and lack of faith from the appropriate people will damage the legitimacy of vaping within these countries, and could cause problems to the pre existing groups of people who have successfully quit smoking and moved on to Vaping which they use as their Nicotine Replacement Therapy tool.

Bringing in regulations and rules without the correct research and knowledge could be hugely damaging to these groups, and could force current vapers to relapse and revert back to smoking should it become harder for them to obtain nicotine based vaping products in their countries, like what is happening in certain countries in Europe. A simple reach out to us here in England, or any other country that are successfully promoting Vaping and the helping educate people with the right information.

A big thank you to Consumer Choice Centre and the World Vapers Alliance for conducting this survey. You can read the survey results in full HERE

Consumer Choice Centre & World Vapers Alliance Website

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