200,000 more US smokers could have switched to e-cigarettes in 2015 if dual-users had been better informed about their relative safety, a new FDA study suggests

The study investigated how dual e-cigarette and tobacco users’ perception of relative harm would influence their behaviour.

At the beginning of the study, the participants were asked whether they considered vaping to be less harmful, about as harmful or more harmful than smoking.

When they returned a year later, the participants were separated into four categories: those who had only vaped, those who had only smoked, those who had dual-used and those who had abstained altogether over the past 30 days.

The researchers found that the participants who considered vaping to be less harmful than smoking at the beginning of the study were more likely to exclusively vape or remain a dual-user and less likely to revert back to exclusive tobacco-use than dual-users with other perceptions of the relative harms.

The team concluded:

“If the nearly 4.3 million dual users who did not did not perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes in 2014-15 had the same rate of complete switching as those who did perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful, approximately 205,000 more would have switched to exclusive e-cigarette use in 2015-16.”

Vaping continues to come under attack from the FDA, anti-tobacco groups and much of the mainstream American press.

These findings the FDA’s own study suggest that more evidence-based communications could lead a significant number of adult smokers to embrace less harmful alternatives.

Martin Dockrell of Public Health England said: