RIYADH: Confusing information about smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes prevents a large number of smokers from kicking the butt, according to the findings of a global survey.
The survey of nearly 30,000 adults in 26 countries, including Saudi Arabia and the 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.
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 1 billion smokers in the world today, and this number is expected to stay steady until 2025.
The study, which was commissioned by Philip Morris International, was conducted by research firm Povaddo to measure the public’s awareness of smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes.
The international survey showed that despite the available science and research backing up smoke-free alternatives, there was public confusion surrounding these products, such as heated tobacco products or e-cigarettes.
Thirty-three percent of the respondents cited a lack of information about how these products differ from cigarettes and 35 percent said they were unsure about the science behind these new products.
The survey found that 32 percent of smokers have easier access to cigarettes and so don’t switch to alternatives.
Two thirds of adult smokers in the Kingdom, when surveyed on why they have not considered switching to smoke-free products, 62 percent said the lack of information about how these products differ from cigarettes, 41 percent cited uncertainty about the science, while 56 percent said having easier access to cigarettes, played a part in their consideration.
The survey revealed 97 percent of legal age smokers in the Kingdom surveyed who have switched to a smoke-free product and stopped smoking confirmed that having accurate information about how these products differ from cigarettes was an important factor in their decision.
In addition, 73 percent of current Saudi-based adult smokers said they would be more likely to switch to smoke-free 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 percent.
“The findings of the survey show there is confusion about smoke-free products. 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 the Middle East at Philip Morris International.