A recent media release of a research commissioned by the PMI-funded Foundation for Smoke-Free World (SFW) concluded among others, that “there is confusion among smokers about the relative harms of smoking and less harmful alternatives, which impacts their motivations to quit and their choices about how to quit.” Dr Yach in a press release on video on their website suggest the data can strengthen the voices of smokers and vapers in push for better advocacy and “smart regulation” in the various countries (see: https://www.smokefreeworld.org/news-views/videos).
The survey method was however not so clear and it suggests that the study sample included for South Africa seem sub-optimal and maybe biased towards survey of more dependent smokers than previously been reported in nationally representative sample of smokers in peer-reviewed publications (see: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0095553&type=printable). How quickly one takes a first cigarette is usually used as a proxy measure for the level of nicotine addiction. The fact that the SFW’s survey results suggested as high as 59% of South African smokers (highest of all countries) smoke a few minutes after waking suggests this might be a highly addicted population of smokers that was surveyed. This is especially likely so, when taken together with the fact that only 36% reportedly had made quit attempt in past. This again, was an unusual finding compared to many others’ past publications that have consistently found that over 50% of smokers have tried to quit. It has also been suggested by others that the SFW’s results might be biased as recently reported in the Business Day (see: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/health/2018-03-20-global-smokers-study-criticised-as-biased/)