Myths and misinformation

Think tank: Demos

Author(s): Alice Dawson; Polly Mackenzie

May 24, 2022

This report from UK think tank Demos maps out the barriers to smoking cessation and the uptake of nicotine alternatives.

In 2019 the government announced its ambition to make England smoke-free by 2030. Nicotine alternatives, such as e-cigarettes, have an important role to play in aiding smoking cessation. With that in focus, Demos has released its latest report, Myths and Misinformation: Mapping the barriers to smoking cessation and the uptake of nicotine alternatives, which has looked at the prevalence of tobacco harm misperceptions amongst the UK public. The report has uncovered a huge level of misunderstanding around the harms posed by tobacco, with 93% of Brits overestimating the health risk of nicotine, one of the main chemicals in tobacco. The over 60s and those from the lowest socio economic groups (C2DE) are the most likely to be misinformed, illustrating the scale of the task at hand for the government. Our research has also revealed the scale of misunderstanding around vaping, with 90% of Brits’ responses ‘broadly incorrect’ about its harm compared to tobacco cigarettes; this despite public health evidence asserting that vaping is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm that comes from smoking cigarettes.