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Four in 10 smokers incorrectly think nicotine causes cancer

14 Mar Four in 10 smokers incorrectly think nicotine causes cancer

Over 58% of smokers still try to quit without using an aid and going ‘cold turkey’ despite this being the least effective way. A Public Health England (PHE) report highlights that public misunderstanding of the harmfulness of nicotine containing products, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and e-cigarettes, may be linked to inaccurate and confused perception of the risks of nicotine.

The risks of nicotine use are likely to be very low or negligible. NRT is safe and licenced for use in pregnancy and for people with cardiovascular disease. And there is now wide international consensus that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking. It is the cocktail of deadly chemicals in cigarette smoke, including tar and carbon monoxide, which causes almost all of the harm of smoking.

Four in 10 smokers and ex-smokers incorrectly think that nicotine in cigarettes is the cause of most of the smoking-related cancer. Understanding of the harms of nicotine among the general population is similarly poor. In 2017:

only 7.5% thought that none or a very small part of the risk of smoking comes from nicotine
14% thought that it was nearly all the risk
almost a quarter (24.2%) of the population didn’t know
The use of quit aids can greatly increase your chances of quitting successfully. Research shows that:

using NRT as a quit aid, such as patches and gums, or e-cigarettes makes it one and a half times as likely you’ll succeed
your chances of quitting are doubled if using a stop smoking medicine prescribed by a GP, pharmacist or other health professional
expert support from a local stop smoking service gives you the best chance of quitting successfully
combining quit aids with expert support makes it four times as likely you’ll stop smoking successfully