About 3 out of 4 People agree that smoking cigarettes causes well being issues, however public notion of the dangers posed by smoking could also be declining, based on a Duke Well being examine printed within the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
From 2006 to 2015, the variety of People who stated smoking a pack or extra per day posed a terrific well being threat dropped by 1 %, which represents greater than 3 million People.
To date, the change in perceived threat has not appeared to end in extra people who smoke. Throughout the identical interval, people who smoke within the U.S. dropped from 20.8 % to fifteen.1 %, based on statistics from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Nevertheless it may sign a possible slowing of progress.
“That is 3 million individuals who is likely to be extra prone to begin smoking, return to smoking, or who’re much less prone to stop in the event that they already smoke,” stated Lauren Pacek, Ph.D., the examine’s lead creator and an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke. The change in threat notion additionally modified extra considerably in ladies than in males, the authors discovered.
“We had been stunned by the findings,” stated co-author Joe McClernon, Ph.D., professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “Cigarettes have not basically modified over the past 15 years. They’re no safer. And we proceed to see that giant numbers of People are dying from tobacco associated illness — as many as 400,000 a yr. So, it is curious that the details have not modified, however the threat perceptions have gone down.”
The findings are primarily based on responses from greater than 559,000 individuals over age 12 who took the Nationwide Survey on Drug Use and Well being, an in-home survey administered by the Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Companies Administration because the Seventies.
The survey asks: “How a lot do individuals threat harming themselves bodily and in different methods after they smoke a number of packs of cigarettes per day?” Respondents chosen “no threat,” “slight threat,” “reasonable threat,” or “nice threat.”
Because the variety of respondents who noticed smoking as a terrific threat declined, the variety of who stated it posed no threat elevated, leaping from 1.45 % to 2.63 % over the 10-year span.
Older teenagers and adults had been extra probably than teenagers 12 to 17 to see smoking as a terrific well being threat. Every day people who smoke had been much less probably than former people who smoke and non-smokers to see cigarette use harmful to their well being.
Various elements could possibly be driving the change, McClernon stated, together with message fatigue.
“The thought right here is that People have heard so usually, and for thus lengthy, about how dangerous cigarettes are that the message is much less impactful,” McClernon stated. It might even be attainable that fewer People know people who smoke or individuals with tobacco-related illness, and this additionally may lower perceived hurt, he stated.
“We would wish to see public coverage consultants and inhabitants well being advocates take a look at these findings, step again and work on methods to extend public notion of the cigarette smoking dangers,” McClernon stated. “Perhaps that is by way of public schooling campaigns or adjustments in tobacco product labeling. We expect our knowledge counsel that there are some segments of the inhabitants — ladies and younger teenagers, as an illustration — who would possibly profit extra from these efforts.”
The Duke researchers are conducting a number of ongoing initiatives to look at how totally different tobacco merchandise, comparable to digital cigarettes, affect individuals’s notion of smoking dangers or the choice to stop.
The analysis was supported by Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse (K01DA043413), a division of the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.