A new evidence review on e-cigarettes and vaping, published today by Public Health England and undertaken by leading independent tobacco experts, provides an update on PHE’s 2015 review. The report covers e-cigarette use among young people and adults, public attitudes, the impact on quitting smoking, an update on risks to health and the role of nicotine. It also reviews heated tobacco products.
The lead author of the report is Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction in the National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. The key findings of the report are that:
- 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 in the UK 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 there incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of UK 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.
Reacting to the report, Declan Connolly, Director of the Irish Vape Vendors Association said:
”Vaping is now the most popular tool among Irish smokers who make a quit attempt despite being bombarded with misleading news reports on vaping. Our neighbors in the UK are strides ahead of us in terms of countering misinformation and acknowledging the vital contribution that vaping and the independent vape industry has made towards reducing smoking.”
”If our government are serious about reducing smoking then the Department of Health should be doing everything in their power to foster conditions which sees more smokers informed about vaping and the benefits of smokers making the switch. Unfortunately we see no commitment from the government to invest in research and there are still public bodies and health charities which have not updated their positions in a number of years. This has to change and we call on Ministers Catherine Byrne and Simon Harris to meet with the independent vape industry and begin a dialogue. We have a tool to help reduce smoking at no cost to the state, we should be encouraging it.”
McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L & Robson D (2018). [Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. A report commissioned by Public Health England. London: Public Health England.