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Use of e-cigarettes stalls in the US, as more Americans believe they’re not healthier than conventional cigarettes

About 10 percent of the 9,766 adults surveyed use the device
This year a growing percentage expressed negative attitudes
47 percent of respondents said vaping was not healthier than smoking

Use of electronic cigarettesand other vaping devices has stalled in the United States asmore Americans question their safety, according to a new onlineReuters/Ipsos poll.

About 10 percent of the 9,766 adults surveyed between April19 and May 16 use the devices, the same percentage as in asimilar Reuters/Ipsos poll in May, 2015. This year, however, agrowing percentage of participants expressed negative attitudestoward e-cigarettes.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents saidvaping was not healthier than smoking conventional cigarettescompared with 38 percent who felt that way a year ago.

Forty-three percent said they did not believe vaping couldhelp people quit smoking compared with 39 percent who held thatview in 2015. A majority of participants – 66 percent – say thatvaping can be addictive compared with 61 percent in 2015.

Additionally, 49 percent said this year that it could have asimilar effect to that of second-hand tobacco smoke comparedwith 42 percent last year.

Use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new online poll

Use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new online poll

The growing concerns about the devices could hit theiralready slowing sales, especially for smaller e-cigarette andvaping companies. Many of these brands have lost market share tobig tobacco companies, such as Altria and ReynoldsAmerican Inc. Some do not expect to survive with newU.S. rules to regulate the e-cigarette market.

‘In some ways, a move away from e-cigarettes is actuallypositive for Altria and Reynolds,’ said Morningstar analyst AdamFleck, pointing out it may help sustain sales of conventionalcigarettes, whose margins are much higher.

Sharra Morris, 42, a mental health counselor in Moore,Oklahoma, started using e-cigarettes in February despite somemisgivings about their safety. She tried vaping to help her quitsmoking regular cigarettes.

‘The question now is: are they really safe?’ said Morris,who likes to vape using liquids flavored to taste like FruitLoops cereal and Snickerdoodle cookies. ‘What will they tell usin 20 years?’

E-cigarettes are metal tubes that heat liquids typicallylaced with nicotine and deliver vapor when inhaled. The liquidscome in thousands of flavors, from cotton candy to pizza.

Use of the devices has grown quickly in the last decade,with U.S. sales expected to reach $4.1 billion in 2016,according to Wells Fargo Securities. Sales were down 6 percentin the first quarter of 2016, however.

The healthcare community remains deeply divided over thedevices. Some healthcare experts are concerned about how littleis known about the potential health risks. They are especiallyworried about rising teen e-cigarette use, and fear that may geta new generation hooked on nicotine.

Some support them as a safer alternative to tobacco smokefor smokers who have been unable to quit.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston UniversitySchool of Public Health, has advocated vaping as a way to weansmokers off conventional cigarettes. He blames negativepublicity for the growing concerns about the devices, andbelieves most are unwarranted.

‘There have been public health scares, and they areworking,’ said Siegel. ‘They are dissuading a lot of people fromtrying these products.’

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first rulesregulating e-cigarettes earlier this month, banning their saleand advertising to minors and requiring that manufacturerssubmit their products for approval.

At least one lawsuit has been filed in response to the newrules and more are expected. Many smaller companies say thetesting requirement is too burdensome because it will costhundreds of thousands of dollars per product, and they oftenmanufacture dozens. They say the rules favor the large players,such as Altria and Reynolds.

Companies selling in the United States are banned frommarketing the products as smoking cessation devices. Aboutthree-quarters of people who switch between e-cigarettes andtraditional cigarettes said in the Reuters/Ipsos survey theytried them to quit conventional cigarettes, but still smoketobacco ‘on occasion.’

Many are like Michael Whittaker, a 47-year-old deliverydriver from Halifax, Massachusetts, who took up vaping a fewmonths ago. ‘I figured it might be better for me and I mightsmell better.’

Now he is trying to cut back on both, which is common fordual users.

About 80 percent of people who switch between e-cigarettesand traditional cigarettes said they vape ‘in places whereregular cigarettes are prohibited,’ such as public buildings, or ‘when I’m near people who don’t like tobacco smoke.’

About half of those who currently vape or said they usede-cigarettes in the past said friends and family encouraged themto try the devices. The Reuters/Ipsos poll has a credibilityinterval, a measure of its accuracy, of plus or minus 1.1percentage point for all respondents and 5.6 percentage pointsfor questions asked of people who switch between conventionaland e-cigarettes.

A concern for healthcare professionals is that while 29percent of those who stopped vaping said in the poll they ‘quitall nicotine products,’ almost half returned to conventionalcigarettes.

Of those who went back to traditional tobacco products, 57percent said they returned to conventional cigarettes becausevaping was not satisfying, and 10 percent said it was notconvenient enough. U.S.-approved smoking cessation products andstrategies include medications, patches and counseling, many ofwhich are now covered by insurance.

‘We think there are certainly more and better ways to helpsmokers to quit,’ said Erika Sward of the American LungAssociation. ‘When you’re going to e-cigarettes, you’re notquitting, you’re switching,’ she said.

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