The most in-depth piece of vaping research conducted by Public Health England (PHE) has led the health body to claim that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
Their research has found that of the 2.6 million adults in the UK now thought to be using e-cigarettes, most are current or former conventional smokers, who are vaping to help quit tobacco or to prevent them going back to smoking, and PHE now argue that e-cigarettes “have the potential to make a significant contribution to the endgame for tobacco”.
However, as we previously mentioned on the Gamucci news page, unsubstantiated claims regarding the dangers of nicotine are becoming more prevalent and this PHE study has further demonstrated an increase in conflicting public opinion with – 22%, compared with 8% two years ago – falsely believing that e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than tobacco. This had led to an increasing call from Tobacco reduction campaigners for public education of the differences between tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes; as although e-cigarettes, like tobacco cigarettes, contain addictive nicotine, they do not contain more dangerous chemicals such as tar and arsenic.
Peter Hajek, of Queen Mary University, London, one of the independent authors of the review, said: “My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health. Smokers differ in their needs and I would advise them not to give up on e-cigarettes if they do not like the first one they try. It may take some experimentation with different products and e-liquids to find the right one.”
Ecita, a trade association of e-cigarette manufacturers, said: “There could be huge long-term benefits to taxpayers and the NHS as well as to former smokers and their families. The proposed ban in public places across Wales is very worrying, as are many of the bans in pubs and restaurants across the UK. This appears to be driving a growing number of people to think the harm is the same, deterring smokers from moving to e-cigarettes, and damaging public health.”
The smokers group Forest questioned whether prescribing e-cigarettes on the NHS would be a justifiable use of taxpayers’ money. Simon Clark, its director, said promoting them “as a state-approved smoking cessation aid ignores the fact that many people enjoy vaping in its own right and use e-cigs as a recreational not a medicinal product.”
He said e-cigarettes had been successful because the consumer, not the state, was in charge. “If they want more smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, public health campaigners should embrace consumer choice and oppose unnecessary restrictions on the sale, marketing and promotion of this potentially game-changing product.”
Read the full story on the Guardian