Back in 2015, Public Health England (PHE) released details of a review they had carried out into e-cigarettes. If you’re not sure what Public Health England is they’re a UK government-backed agency who, according to their website, “Exist to protect and improve the nation's health and well-being”. Although not directly responsible for UK policy on vaping they will undoubtedly have a significant input and influence on those that are.
Their 2015 e-cigarette review was hugely important, as, for the first time, a large and respected national health institution came out as being largely supportive of vaping. Their three headline findings were significant. Not because they told us anything especially new or surprising but because they supported the vaping community and debunked the mostly negative vaping themes portrayed in the mainstream media.
Key findings of the 2015 review include:
- the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking
- nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking
- there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route to smoking for children or non-smokers
Fast forward three years and Public Health England have updated their review and published new findings on e-cigarettes and the vaping industry. As a relatively new phenomenon vaping is quite rightly being subjected to many reviews and studies into its effects. It’s a fast moving picture, and so updated PHE findings are an important factor in helping maintain the momentum of vaping.
The key findings from the 2018 study were;
- vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits
- e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more
- e-cigarette use is associated with improved quit success rates over the last year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country
- many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette
- there is much public misunderstanding about nicotine (less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine)
- the use of e-cigarettes in the UK has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million
- the evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people (youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline, regular use is rare and is almost entirely confined to those who have smoked)
As you will see the findings are again very much supportive of vaping and it’s worth also reading the press release for the comments of the professors who worked on the study.
Vaping as an industry has been in a constant battle since it’s earliest days against negative media and dubious research. In many countries around the world, the battle has been lost and vaping bans are becoming increasingly common (You can check out vaping laws around the world in our last blog post). Thankfully the UK has taken a progressive route with e-cigs and the evidence-based research carried out by PHE will only help in promoting vaping so more people can make the switch and quit smoking.