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Despite the overwhelming evidence indicating that safer nicotine products are significantly less harmful than smoking, vaping misinformation has stoked mistrust of safer products, most notably seen in fears surrounding EVALI and youth vaping. In this episode, Will Godfrey looks at a recent study tracking the decreasing trust in vapes amongst the general public, and the real-world consequences that vaping misinformation has on public health.


0:00 - Coming up on today's programme
0:10 - Will Godfrey tackles misinformation
0:33 - What's behind decreasing trust in vapes in the UK?
1:50 - Youth vaping impacts trust in vapes
2:28 - Why has the UK backtracked on its support of vaping?
3:37 - Closing remarks


00:00:05 --> 00:00:42

Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome! I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Today we'll be speaking with Will Godfrey of Filter about more examples of misinformation on tobacco harm reduction. Hi Will, thank you for joining us today. This is a long-standing problem, but what are the recent developments that you've been covering?

00:00:43 --> 00:01:42

Will Godfrey: Hi Joanna. Yes, it's an all too familiar subject, but the scene of the latest example might have been surprising a few years ago. New data published in a study by Dr. Sarah Jackson and others show that basic knowledge of relative risks has dramatically declined over the last decade among people who smoke in England. Over 28,000 adults were surveyed. In 2014, 44% said that vaping was less harmful than smoking. By 2023, only 27% knew this. They were outnumbered by 34% who thought cigarettes and vapes are equally harmful, and another 23% thought vapes are more harmful. The proportion getting the question right has declined by 40%, as Kiran Sidhu reported for Filter. And of course, as Dr. Jackson said, this is likely to put people off from trying to switch with vapes, which might keep them smoking for longer.

00:01:44 --> 00:01:47

Joanna Junak: So what has caused this decline in understanding?

00:01:48 --> 00:02:17

Will Godfrey: The study didn't address causation, though the authors noted that within the study period, the two most notable changes in harm perceptions among participants coincided with the so-called EVALI outbreak and a recent rise in English youth vaping. Advocate Clive Bates unequivocally told Kieran that, the blame lies with the constant flow of misinformation, scare stories and doubt that starts in universities, which is amplified by activists and then ends in the media.

00:02:18 --> 00:02:20

Joanna Junak: Can you give us some more context?

00:02:21 --> 00:03:35

Will Godfrey: The UK has been known as a pretty welcoming environment for vaping, with widespread access and health authorities supporting vapes as harm reduction. But in more recent years, a media youth vaping outcry has arisen, similar to what we've had in the United States. In the past year, the UK government has reacted by announcing a ban on disposables, new powers to restrict flavors, and now a new vape tax. As Bates noted, such measures also play into risk perceptions of vapes, even if their intent is to restrict youth uptake. But misinformation is a chronic global problem for tobacco harm reduction, with even large majorities of physicians worldwide blaming nicotine for all kinds of diseases that are in fact caused by smoking. I'll also mention a piece we published by Skip Murray on International Women's Day last week, in which she detailed consequences of misinformation for women specifically. Skip related heartbreaking examples of harms to people in her own life because they weren't told the truth about nicotine. In the tobacco harm reduction field, misinformation is an abstract term to describe real world pain and suffering needlessly inflicted on millions of people.

00:03:37 --> 00:03:52

Joanna Junak: Thank you Will. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.