Public Health England (PHE) has released its latest annual report on e-cigarettes, again stating that vaping poses only a fraction of the health risk of tobacco smoking and should be encouraged among smokers.
A key finding of the PHE report was that “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.”
“Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95 percent less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders,” said John Newton, a professor and director for health improvement at PHE.
“It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”
The concern is well founded as the report states that 40% of smokers haven’t even tried vapor products.
“We face a similar crisis here in the United States,” said Alex Clark, CASAA’s Executive Director, “where 55 percent of consumers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful or worse than smoking. It certainly doesn’t help that our government’s health agencies have been manufacturing fear about the harm of ‘addiction’ and misplacing the blame on nicotine for decades. There are also a shocking number of medical doctors who still believe that nicotine causes cancer. The FDA and CDC need to be more aggressive in correcting this misperception about nicotine and it’s time for PHE’s leadership to rub off on them.”
PHE also concluded that concerns over youth use leading to smoking were not supported by the evidence.
“Concern has been expressed that e-cigarette use will lead young people into smoking,” said Professor Linda Bauld, author and Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling and Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention, Cancer Research UK. “But in the UK, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate. We need to keep closely monitoring these trends, but so far the data suggest that e-cigarettes are not acting as a route into regular smoking amongst young people.”
The PHE report comes a few weeks after a U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on vapor products. Their conclusion on vaping safety also finds that, based on the available evidence, “e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.”
“The key element missing from the US tobacco policy is harm reduction,” explained Bruce Nye, RN, Vice President of CASAA.
“While the UK reduces the harm to smokers by recommending alternatives to combustible tobacco, the US policy remains essentially ‘Quit or Die’. Recent FDA applications to market low-risk alternatives have been denied, leaving only the most harmful products on the market. While the UK promotes information about the varied risks of tobacco products, the US promotes the false idea that all tobacco products are the same.
“What the UK has realized is that the social and economic costs of promoting low-risk alternatives is far lower than continuing a zero-tolerance prohibition policy,” said Nye. “It is time for the US to shift its policy from the current “War On Tobacco” towards a policy that values the lives of all it’s citizens, smokers and non-smokers, and embrace reduced harm products such as e-cigarettes, smokeless, and heat-not-burn.”
Public Health England’s full report is available on their website, here.
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