Most Americans Unsure if Vaping is Safer than Cigarettes

Two-thirds overall aren't sure, but half of vapers, and one in five adults age 18-34, think vaping is safer

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jinhee Yi Account Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, October 2, 2019 — A new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of USA Today finds that adults age 18-34 (14%) and 35-54 (10%) are more likely to be current vapers than those over age 55 (2%). Three-quarters of reported vapers (just 8% of Americans overall) responded that they also have a family member who vapes or used to vape, compared to just 14% of non-vapers.  

By far, vaping stores/smoke shops are the most popular place to purchase vaping supplies (65%). This is distantly followed by internet suppliers (25%), conventional retail or convenience stores (22%), and directly from manufacturers (8%). According to vapers, former vapers, and non-vapers with family members who vape, the most common substance to vape is nicotine e-liquid/juice (46%). However, among those in this category that are under age 35, the most popular is flavored e-liquid/juice (52%).

One in ten Americans think vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes (11%), but that number rises to one in five among adults age 18-34 (21%). Most Americans say there isn’t enough research to decide (47%) or they are unsure (19%). While half of current vapers (49%) believe vaping is safer; just 6% of non-vapers say the same. A vast majority of Americans (87%) are aware of recent news on vaping; not surprisingly, awareness is highest among vapers (95%). Looking at different age groups, adults age 55+ are more likely to be aware of recent vaping news (93%) than adults age 18-34 and 35-54 (80% and 85%, respectively).

Of the various vaping-related policies tested in the survey, requiring labels to list all ingredients and potential risks receives the greatest support among total respondents (88%) and vapers (83%) alike. Eight in ten Americans also support not allowing anyone under the age of 21 to purchase vaping products (80%) and implementing FDA regulations for vaping (79%). Just 8% of vapers support banning all vapes, compared to 47% overall.  

Around 7 in 10 Americans (71%) agree that vaping companies are not doing enough to address teen addiction; however, less than half of vapers (44%) agree. More than half of respondents (59%) agree that if vaping is banned, more people will purchase from the non-regulated black market, but those that currently vape are significantly more likely to agree (82%). 

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 25-26, 2019, on behalf of USA Today. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 67 current vapers, 223 adults age 18-34, 339 adults age 35-54, and 444 adults age 55+.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 13.7 percentage points for vapers, plus or minus 7.5 percentage points for adults age 18-34, plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for adults age 35-54, and plus or minus 5.3 percentage points for adults 55+.   

For more information on this news release, please contact: 

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2011
[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Director, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).
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The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jinhee Yi Account Manager, US, Public Affairs