Smokers who regularly spend time with vapers are more likely to attempt to quit, new research suggests.
A study by University College London (UCL) found that smokers who have frequently spent time with vapers, who smoke e-cigarettes, were around 20% more likely to have made a recent attempt to quit, and reported feeling motivated to stop smoking.
Roughly a quarter of smokers (25.8%) who participated in the study said they regularly spent time with vapers and, of these, around a third (32.3%) had made an attempt to quit smoking in the previous year.
By comparison, around a quarter (26.8%) of smokers who did not regularly spend time with vapers attempted to quit in the previous year.
Dr Sarah Jackson, the study’s lead author, said its findings should ease concerns about vaping.
She added: “It is becoming increasingly more commonplace for smokers to come into contact with vapers and some concerns have been raised that this could re-normalise smoking in England and undermine smokers’ motivation to quit.
“Our results found no evidence that spending time with vapers discourages smokers from quitting, which should help to alleviate concerns about the wider public health impact of e-cigarettes.”
The study, which was funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the BMC Medicine academic journal on Wednesday, used data provided by nearly 13,000 participants in the Smoking Toolkit Study, a research project about smoking habits in England.
E-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco, according to Public Health England.
Dr Jackson added: “A key factor driving these differences may be that smokers who are regularly exposed to e-cigarette use by others are more likely to use e-cigarettes themselves.
“When smokers’ own use of e-cigarettes was taken into account, exposure to other people using e-cigarettes appeared to have little impact on how motivated smokers were to stop, and whether they made a recent quit attempt.”
Cancer Research UK’s tobacco control expert Kruti Shrotri said: “There hasn’t been much evidence about whether e-cigarettes might make smoking tobacco seem normal again.”
She added: “So it’s encouraging to see that mixing with people who vape is actually motivating smokers to quit.
“As the number of people who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking rises, we hope that smokers who come into contact with them are spurred on to give up tobacco for good.”