Public Health England, the agency as part of the UK's Department of Health and Social Care, was one of the first to publish a long-term, independent review of vaping in 2015. In this 2015 report, they stated that the use of E-Cigarettes is at least 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco. This was then corroborated by several groups including Cancer Research UK.
At the beginning of last month, PHE published another review that served as an update to their 2015 study. Like the 2015 review, it was entirely independent of any tobacco, vaping or pharmaceutical company funding.
In this update, they repeated their findings regarding vaping causing a fraction of the harm of traditional cigarettes, and added on to this; one of the additions included public perceptions of vaping and tobacco. In the the study, they concluded that:
- Vaping has contributed hugely to the lowering of smoking rates, and contributes to, at the very least, 20,000 people successfully quitting smoking in the UK.
- Many smokers incorrectly believe not only that vaping is more harmful than cigarettes, but also, more than 90% of adults in the UK are not aware of the fact that the nicotine causes "little if any" of the harm associated with traditional cigarettes.
- There is no evidence to suggest that vaping is, as is often reported, a gateway for younger generations to start smoking.
PHE then continued to make several recommendations based on this report, not least of which include:
- E-Cigarettes as well as other NRT options are available in hospitals.
- E-Cigarettes should be made available on the NHS in the UK.
- That smokers attempt quitting using E-Cigarettes as well as consulting with support networks in place, as this provides the greatest possible chance of a successful smoking cessation.
They ended the report by saying that E-Cigarettes are playing a very important role in the progression towards a smoke-free generation.
While this report is great news for both vapers and smokers looking to quit alike, it does show one important aspect that we are failing on in Ireland, and that is the lack of information and studies conducted like that over here. We have a dedicated qutting network available here through the HSE with quit.ie, however, there is not a single bit of information available through the website regarding vaping. The vast majority of advocacy that is done over here is by groups associated with vendors and distributors such as VBI (Vape Business Ireland) and the IVVA (Irish Vaping Vendor's Association).
However, the lack of information is another topic, and for now, we should focus on the positives that the PHE report outlined.
Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products - McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L & Robson D (2018). - Commissioned by PHE.