Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) say they would not be bothered by someone using an electronic cigarette in close proximity, according to data in the 2014 American E-Cigarette Etiquette Survey conducted by Harris Interactive.
The telephone survey of 1,011 adults, commissioned by North Carolina-based electronic cigarette maker Mistic, is the first national study to gauge American opinion on the e-cigarette, a device whose sales and popularity grew dramatically in 2013 with revenues expected to top $10 billion by 2017, according to Wells Fargo. The survey found that a quarter of Americans (25%) said they would object to someone using the device nearby.
“The electronic cigarette industry is growing rapidly here and around the world, and we want to be the first U.S. company to measure American attitudes on vaping,” said survey spokesman John Wiesehan Jr., co-founder and CEO of Mistic. “Because the e-cigarette is a relatively new consumer product, there are a lot of questions about government regulation and whether these devices should be allowed in certain places. This survey serves as an important first step in setting the benchmark for public opinion.”
The survey also asked Americans whether they would approve or disapprove of e-cigarette use at certain public places that typically ban smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Of the Americans who had an opinion one way or the other, the survey found that 58% of respondents approved of allowing e-cigs to be used at sporting events, followed by malls (47%), restaurants and bars (45%), in an office (35%), on public transportation (35%), in a movie theater (29%) or on an airplane (26%).
Men, Women Differ on E-Cigs
The survey found that men and women have key differences of opinion when it comes to e-cigarettes. Overall, men were more tolerant of e-cig use, with 71% stating they would not be bothered by the use of an electronic cigarette in their vicinity, compared with 55% of women. The differences also carried over on the subject of allowing e-cigs at particular locations, such as at a restaurant or bar, where 52% of men who expressed an opinion were OK with the use of e-cigarettes, compared with just 38% of women. At a sporting event, 65% of men said e-cigs were OK, compared with 51% of women.
“As the popularity of e-cigarettes rise, their regulation at locations like bars and restaurants has become a very hot topic around the country,” Wiesehan said. “Because they look like traditional tobacco cigarettes, there might be an immediate reaction to ban them on the spot. The fact is e-cigarettes don’t possess any of the negative attributes commonly associated with traditional tobacco. There is no smoke, only vapor, and they don’t smell, they don’t invade clothes or leave ash or stubs. More importantly, many of the negative side effects associated with smoking are minimized by switching to e-cigarettes.”
The survey also found that there was a significant generational gap when it came to e-cigarette sentiment. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of Americans ages 18-34 said they would not be bothered by someone using an e-cigarette in close proximity, compared with 46% of those ages 65 and over. In a restaurant or bar, 54% of the 18-34 age group who gave an opinion said e-cig use was OK, compared with just 28% of those ages 65 and over.
By the Numbers: 2014 American E-Cigarette Etiquette Survey Fast Facts
On an airplane, those in the Midwest (29%) who gave an opinion were more likely than those in the West (19% ) to say they would approve of someone using an e-cig in flight
At a mall, 58% of men who gave an opinion approve of allowing e-cigs compared with 38% of women
At the office, 75% of women who gave an opinion disapproved of allowing e-cigarettes at work
Only 2% of Americans said they did not know what an electronic cigarette was
75% of Americans making between $50K-$75K annually are not bothered by someone vaping next to them, followed by 68% of those making between $35K-$50K
About the Survey
Mistic’s 2014 American E-Cigarette Etiquette Survey was conducted by telephone within the U.S. by Harris Interactive between December 12- 15, 2013 among 1,011 Americans ages 18 and over. Results were weighted for age, sex, geographic region, and race when necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.