New International survey reveals confusion about smoke-free products

A newly released international survey reveals confusion on scientifically-backed alternatives to cigarettes for adult smokers around the world to make an informed choice on smoke-free products.

The survey, conducted independently by renouned research firm Povaddo was commissioned by Philip Morris International (PMI) to measure the public’s awareness on smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes (such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products), a novel and fundamentally different category than cigarettes.

The Povaddo survey—fielded among nearly 30,000 adults, in 26 countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE)— found that too many adult smokers remain unaware that alternatives to cigarettes exist, are unable to access them, or are confused by conflicting information that prevents them from making an informed choice.  

The international survey showed that despite the available science and research backing up smoke-free alternatives, there was public confusion surrounding these products, – like heated tobacco products or e-cigarettes. Nearly half the adults surveyed across 26 countries wrongly believe that e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are more harmful than or equally harmful as cigarettes (45% and 46%, respectively, for each product category). In the UAE the findings are consistent with the global results, with nearly half of the survey respondents considered e-cigarettes (49%) and heated tobacco products (50%) to be more harmful than or equally harmful as cigarettes.  

Misinformtion leaves adult smokers in confusion and prevents them from making informed choices, as the results of the Povaddo survey suggests.

Globally the survey found that when asked why they have not considered switching to a smoke-free alternatives, around a third of smokers surveyed cited lack of information about how these products differ from cigarettes (33%), uncertainty about the science (35%), or having easier access to cigarettes (32%), the most harmful form of tobacco consumption. Yet, around a third of UAE adult smokers surveyed on why they have not considered switching to a smoke-free alternative, 33% said the lack of information about how these products differ from cigarettes, 44% cited uncertainty about the science, whilst 48% said having easier access to cigarettes, the most harmful form of tobacco consumption, played a part in their consideration.

The survey revealed that 91% of adult smokers surveyed who have switched to a better alternative and stopped smoking confirmed that having accurate information about how these products differ from cigarettes was an important factor in their decision. In the UAE, this figure was 96% for legal age users.

In addition, 86% of current UAE adult smokers said they would be more likely to switch to a better alternative (such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products) if they had clarity on how these products differ from cigarettes and the science behind them. Globally, of the adult smokers surveyed, this figure stood at 63%.

“The findings of the survey show there is confusion about smoke-free products, with most adult smokers citing a lack of information that is hindering them in making an informed choice on smoke-free alternatives.  For those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke cigarettes, having access to evidence-based information about smoke-free products is critical” said Tarkan Demirbas, Area Vice-President for Middle East, at PMI.

According to the WHO, there are more than one billion smokers in the world today, and this number is expected to stay steady until 2025[1]. For those who continue to smoke cigarettes, the opportunity to switch to scientifically substantiated, smoke-free products may be the key to accelerating the decline in the number of people who smoke.

“Quitting tobacco and nicotine is the best option for all smokers, and those who don’t smoke or use nicotine products should not start. However, smoke-free products substantiated by robust scientific assessment, while not risk-free, present a much better choice than cigarettes for existing adult smokers.”

To review the complete survey findings, visit www.PMI.com/informedchoice  


[1] https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco

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