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Smoking versus vaping: How (not) to communicate their relative harms

Ayton, P. ORCID: 0000-0003-2285-4608 and Weiss-Cohen, L. (2020). Smoking versus vaping: How (not) to communicate their relative harms. Journal of Risk Research, doi: 10.1080/13669877.2020.1749117

Abstract

Here we consider how the relative harms of two nicotine products were communicated in a public health campaign. Following a peer-reviewed evaluation that rated the relative harm of a range of nicotine products relative to the harm of smoking, and which rated the relative harm of vaping as about 5% that of smoking (D. J. Nutt et al., 2014 European Addiction Research, 20(5), 218–225), the UK government launched a campaign which transposed these relative harms into relative safety, promoting the message that “vaping is 95% safer than smoking”. We discuss the communication issues arising from transposing a measure of relative harms into relative safety and report the results of an experiment which shows that significantly more people correctly appreciated the ratio of the relative harms from smoking and vaping after reading the statement “vaping is 5% as harmful as smoking” than after reading the statement “vaping is 95% safer than smoking”. We discuss the policy implications of our findings.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Risk Research, on 28th April 2020: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/13669877.asp
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 14:47
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/23689
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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