Almost a quarter of smokers in Great Britain (GB) still wrongly believe that vaping is as harmful, or more harmful, as smoking, a new survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has revealed.

The YouGov survey of over 12,000 adults for ASH, with a further analysis by King’s College London, showed that 22% of smokers perceived electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) to be equally, or more harmful, than cigarettes, unchanged from 2017.

In the general population this figure is even higher, with 25% of people believing e-cigs to be as harmful, or more harmful, than e-cigs.

However, there are signs that perceptions of harm may be improving in accuracy, ASH said.

Between 2017 and 2018 a greater proportion of the public correctly identify that e-cigs are less harmful, or a lot less harmful than smoking, (50% in 2018 compared to 43% in 2017).

There was also an increase in the percentage of smokers who correctly believed vaping to be less harmful than smoking, at 27% in 2018, compared with 22% in 2017.

Dr Leonie Brose, King’s College London, said: “The continued false belief among some smokers that vaping is as bad as smoking is worrying.

“Campaigns from Public Health England and others to challenge these views are important and must continue.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH added: “UK policy is on the right track with thousands of smokers making the switch to vaping and improving their health and little sign of non-smokers taking up vaping.

“But even more smokers could benefit if e-cigarettes were licenced as medicines and available on prescription.”

There are now estimated to be 3.2 million vapers in GB.

Of current GB vapers, over half have quit smoking and 40% are current smokers who are trying to quit.