Today we see a study posted by Public Health England (PHE) that ratifies what most of us in the the vaping community are already aware of, electronic cigarettes are less harmful of smoking. This new study has been published just in time to make the deadline for any remaining consultation on the TPD and how it will be put in to practice early next year, so we can only hope that it is taken into account by those that matter. This study sums up how much better E-cigs are to smokers who are attempting to quit and gives advice on future policy and practice when it comes to vaping. Essentially it makes the claim (backed up by hard evidence) that E-cigarettes are effectively 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco.
PHE's goal has always been to discuss the issue of ecigs with a clear and un-biased look at all the evidence and knowledge that comes to hand. They want to make sure that the public perception is in line with reality and not the distorted view presented by many main-stream media outlets. In their first year they commissioned independent evidence reviews from Professors John Britton and Linda Bauld. They have set up the UK Electronic Cigarette Research Forum with Cancer Research UK to help develop discussion and collaboration between researches of this topic. This study, in their own words is the "latest comprehensive review of the up-to-date evidence on e-cigarettes, commissioned from Professor Ann McNeill and Professor Peter Hajek, synthesises what is now a substantial international peer-reviewed evidence base on e-cigarettes. It provides a firm foundation for policy development and public health practice in the context of new regulations for e-cigarettes to be introduced in the UK from May 2016 under the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive (currently under consultation)."
One very positive thing in the study is that smoking is in decline from adults and youths across the whole country, with Ecigs being that main aid that people are using to quit. Also, to those who say that non-smokers are starting to pick up nicotine habits from use of ecigs, the study also says that ecig use is almost exclusively amongst those who already smoke. Ecig use is incredibly effective at helping smokers to quit, especially when used in conjunction with expert help. At the moment, with regulation being so up in the air, the quality of ecig manufacturing can sometimes vary. Even so, this study has found that vaping is still only a minor fraction of the risk presented by smoking.
It does go on to address the issue surrounding public perception as well. As many of us know full well, the media does love to attack vapers and e-cigarettes, especially with scare-mongering and pseudo-science reports based on false or modified facts. At the moment public perception has swung to a worryingly large amount of people believing ecigs to be just as harmful as smoking. This is very bad news as it means smokers who might otherwise use them to quit would shy away, and vapers in public are almost demonized in some cases. This study wants to highlight that there is no danger from second-hand vapour and that even non-smokers whould be made aware of the benefits of vaping.
PHE's study wants to influence the future of vaping as well and have laid out what they would like to see from the future. Their advice is that:
- E-cigarettes have the potential to help smokers quit smoking, and the evidence indicates they carry a fraction of the risk of smoking cigarettes but are not risk free.
- E-cigarettes potentially offer a wide reach, low-cost intervention to reduce smoking in more deprived groups in society where smoking is elevated, and they want to see this potential fully realised.
- There is an opportunity for e-cigarettes to help tackle the high smoking rates among people with mental health problems, particularly in the context of creating smoke-free mental health units.
- The potential of e-cigarettes to help improve public health depends on the extent to which they can act as a route out of smoking for the country’s eight million tobacco users, without providing a route into smoking for children and non-smokers. Appropriate and proportionate regulation is essential if this goal is to be achieved.
- Local stop smoking services provide smokers with the best chance of quitting successfully and they want to see them engaging actively with smokers who want to quit with the help of e-cigarettes.
- They want to see all health and social care professionals providing accurate advice on the relative risks of smoking and e-cigarette use, and providing effective referral routes into stop smoking services.
- The best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit smoking completely and to quit for good. PHE has committed itself to ensure that smokers have a range of evidence-based, effective tools to help them to quit. They encourage smokers who want to use e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking to seek the support of local stop smoking services.
- Given the potential benefits as quitting aids, PHE looks forward to the arrival on the market of a choice of medicinally regulated products that can be made available to smokers by the NHS on prescription. This will provide assurance on the safety, quality and effectiveness to consumers who want to use these products as quitting aids.
- The latest evidence will be considered in the development of the next Tobacco Control Plan for England with a view to maximising the potential of e-cigarettes as a route out of smoking and minimising the risk of their acting as a route into smoking.
PHE's endgame is to see tobacco gone by 2025. Whether or not this is an achievable goal will remain to be seen but they are a firm supporter of Ecigs to bring this change about. They will continue to create discussion and bring new and exciting research to the floor in order to add to the debate, as well as give the public clear and concise information to stop an unfairly negative view of vaping to continue.
If you would like to read the full report for yourself, or perhaps look through the 111 pages of evidence and research they have provided then follow this link.