In seven years, 700,000 smokers would have stopped smoking thanks to vaping, according to Public Health France. But the French continue to be wary of electronic cigarettes, the effects of which on health remain poorly understood.
Does vaping really help quit smoking? According to Public Health France, which published the results of its 2017 Barometer on June 26, 2019, a significant proportion of former smokers believe that electronic cigarettes have helped them to quit smoking.
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Half of vapers are former smokers
First observation from Public Health France: in 2017, in metropolitan France, almost all vapers aged between 18 and 75 have already had experience with tobacco: among daily vapers, 49.5% are former smokers and less than 1% have never smoked.
In other words, vapers would rather be smokers or former smokers than people initiated to nicotine by an electronic cigarette. “The e-cigarette is used overwhelmingly with the objective of reducing tobacco consumption or as a tool to stop smoking”Interpreter Public Health France. “It does not therefore seem to become, in the adult population, a new product used unrelated to tobacco.“Adds the health agency which moderates the conclusions to be drawn from this observation, in particular for adolescents excluded from this study and recalls that”90% of tobacco experiments take place before the age of 18“.
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700,000 fewer smokers
Then, compared to 2014, the share of daily smokers was halved among vapers while that of ex-smokers doubled. This reflects a gradual transition of smokers to electronic cigarettes. And this can be seen in the facts: 76.3% of ex-smokers say that the e-cigarette helped them to quit smoking, of which 67.8% without other help and 8.6% with the combined aid of substitutes.
As a result, the number of daily ex-smokers who have quit smoking for more than six months and who believe that vaping has helped them to quit smoking is estimated at around 700,000 people since the arrival of the e-cigarette on the market. in France in 2010, ie over a period of approximately seven years.
Mistrust on the rise
But despite its growing use, the electronic cigarette is perceived as as or more harmful than the regular cigarette by half of the population and a tendency to increase mistrust is increasingly observed in all groups (smokers, vapers , non-vapers or non-smokers) in recent years.
And for good reason : “the long-term health effects of vapers exposed to electronic cigarette emissions are, ultimately, relatively poorly documented”Public Health France note. Two main reasons explain this lack of data: the recent arrival of the e-cigarette but also “the difficulty of evaluating these effects in vapers who are, for the most part, also smokers or ex-smokers”Reports the health agency.
A mistrust which also explains the generally favorable opinion of the population on the regulation of e-cigarettes: “the ban on vaping in places where smoking is prohibited and the ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18 are favorably appreciated by 66.9% and 77.5% of the population respectively”Identifies Public Health France.
Less harmful but also addictive
But overall, “the scientific community agrees that e-cigarette emissions are less harmful than the smoke from the combustion of tobacco“. Indeed, “the e-cigarette aerosol does not contain the many irritating, toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that are present in tobacco smoke”Like tars or carbon monoxide.
But since most e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine, vaping remains a highly addictive practice.
* The 2017 France Public Health Barometer is a survey conducted by telephone among a sample of 25,319 people, representative of the population aged 18-75, residing in metropolitan France and speaking French, carried out by the Ipsos Institute of 5 January to July 18, 2017.