Today, 6 February 2018, Public Health England has released a groundbreaking independent evidence review on the effects of vaping. It has continued in the vein of their previous review in 2015 (where the famous “95% safer” statistic came from) – and this time, it’s worth bearing in mind, with 3 more years research and experience to draw from.
Public Health England is an executive agency of the Department of Health, so it is effectively the voice of government, and sets the agenda for public health across the country.
Coming at a time of year when sensationalist rhetoric threatens to undermine quit attempts around the globe, Public Health England (PHE) has once again shown itself as a voice of reason, and the driving force behind making the UK the most vape friendly place in the world.
The main findings of their new evidence review are:
- vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits
- vape kits 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)
“Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.” Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE
The message is clear, if you smoke, you should try vaping instead. If you’re vaping and still struggling then vaping alongside behavioral support to change your habit could well be the most effective option available currently.
The report even goes as far as saying there is ‘compelling evidence’ for vapor products to be available on prescription, such is the positive effect on health that they are seen to be capable of. The report also recommends that hospitals, as part of their duty of care, should have vape kits available to patients alongside other forms of nicotine, and that frontline staff should use the opportunity to encourage people to try vaping.
We’ve never heard the support of vaping more explicit from any government globally, and it makes a welcome change from the usual disastrous clickbait headlines we’ve seen in recent weeks, here’s to a more rational debate in 2018.