Public Health England has concluded that e-cigarettes are much safer than cigarettes for the user and for secondhand exposures, but it has not reached a definitive conclusion regarding pregnancy risks. How people perceive the risks to others is less well understood.
This study uses an online UK sample of 1041 adults to examine perceived e-cigarette risks to others and during pregnancy. The survey examines relative risk beliefs of e-cigarettes compared to cigarettes and the percentage reduction in harm provided by e-cigarettes.
A majority of the sample believes that secondhand exposure to e-cigarette vapors poses less risk than secondhand smoke from cigarettes, but almost two-fifths of the sample equate the secondhand risks from e-cigarettes to those from cigarettes. There is somewhat greater perception of e-cigarette risks during pregnancy compared to beliefs regarding secondhand risks of vaping. About two-fifths of the population believe that e-cigarettes are less risky than cigarettes during pregnancy. Respondents believe that e-cigarettes reduce the harm to others by 39% and the harm to babies by 36%.
There is a general sense that e-cigarettes pose less risk than cigarettes, but there is a need for further risk communication regarding comparative e-cigarette risks.