Big pharma and the battle against electronic cigarettes


E-cigarettes have continually become very popular in the recent past. From curious smokers all the way to people in the media, everybody wants to know more about these devices. Going with results obtained from a national survey conducted recently, more people know about e-cigs as compared to half a decade ago. Nonetheless, fewer people consider these devices to be less harmful when compared to tobacco. Big Pharma has been on the frontline when it comes to fighting against e-cigs. Could this survey be an indication that they are winning?

Half a decade ago, about 16% of the respondents in the survey knew about electronic cigarettes. Fast forward to now, and this number has increased to a massive 77%. This massive increase has been witnessed in only five years. Back then, 84% of the surveyed participants had the impression that tobacco cigarettes were more harmful than e-cigs. However, this number has reduced to 65% in this recent survey. It’s true that a majority of the respondents still believe that tobacco is the more harmful option, it’s very clear that the number of people against e-cigs is growing.

This study was done by Dr. Andy Tan, who is from the School of Communication in the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Cabral Bigman, who is from the University of Illinois-Champaign. They used a mail-in survey to collect data and compared the results with results from studies conducted in the past. The participants were both male and female and close to two thirds of them were college educated Caucasians. 58% of them were non-smokers. The results showed that a big chunk of the participants who hadn’t heard about e-cigs were non-white, older and less educated.

This increase in awareness does not come as a surprise. Currently, the United States alone has over 5,000 shops selling these devices with a total sales volume of $1.7 billion. With more e-cigs coming up in advertisements and interviews on the media, the number one agenda of the researchers was to know about awareness of these devices and the perception of the users when it comes to whether or not these devices are harmful. The researchers were concerned that with an increase in availability, these devices may pose threats to the general public health. According to them, no scientific research has so far clearly shown that vaping can be done for smoking cessation. However, numerous studies have been conducted to show that electronic cigarettes are useful to smokers when they are trying to quit. These studies also showed that vaping helped reduce the chances of smokers relapsing to cigarette use.

This recent survey is however a reason for concern. Despite the fact that more than a half of the respondents thinks that tobacco cigarettes are more harmful than e-cigs, it’s very clear that Big Pharma has made progress in convincing consumers that they should not consider e-cigs as a better alternative. The million dollar question is: Why are companies like Big Pharma doing all this work to discredit e-cigs? If you look keenly, you’ll see that he answer has a lot to do with money. If people use e-cigs for cessation, they will switch to vaping and avoid all the expensive nicotine replacement drugs and therapies. For pharmacies, this means a dip in the profit margins.

The unfortunate bit is that in most cases, these expensive drugs don’t work. Were they as successful as pharmacies claim, there would be countless smokers who are cigarette free today. Instead, many of them end up frustrated chewing nicotine gums and wearing patches for months and still fighting the urge to pull out a cigarette and smoke. Users of electronic cigarettes on the other hand get plenty of health benefits after the switch.

Clearly, Big Pharma is not about to stop their quest to discredit electronic cigarettes. However, it will be useful for many people if we identify the facts from the myths and spread the real truth about these devices. What do you think about the recent survey? Is it concerning? What is Big Pharma doing to discredit e-cigs? Tell us what you think.


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