Public health officials’ goal should always be to build awareness of the risks associated with smoking and educate the public on the products that can help smokers quit. Yet the public health community has failed to build awareness of how switching to e-cigarettes can reduce the harm associated with smoking by as much as 95 percent, according to the Public Health England and multiple independent reviews.

This is a public health tragedy. Currently 38 million Americans are addicted to traditional combustible cigarettes, which puts them at higher risk for cancer as well as heart and lung disease. A new study shows e-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as other methods in helping people quit smoking — and thereby significantly improve improve their health prospects. But many people simply don’t know of the e-cigarette option and its benefits.

In fact, when asked whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, 53 percent of Americans in a new nationally represented poll of likely voters conducted by McLaughlin and Associates incorrectly responded “no,” and another 23 percent weren’t sure. A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that even current smokers believed e-cigarettes to be equally or more harmful than traditional cigarettes, a misperception that could dissuade many of them from switching to less harmful e-cigarette products.

Read the entire column on USA Today.