Before I begin this let me make it clear I am not a medical health expert. The facts in this blog are gleaned from various sources including Public Health England.
There is a lot of fake news and confusion surrounding the use of e-cigarettes and the implications on your health. The main issue is around the question, are they safer than tobacco cigarettes?
One of the problems that I see is there is a LOT of fake news, primarily on social media and primarily coming out of countries that have a strong tobacco industry both politically and financially. On top of that some countries are introducing laws massively restricting the use of e-cigarettes and this is making headline news.
Luckily in the UK the government seems to be taking a more relaxed and sensible approach to the use of e-cigarettes. Back in October PHE (Public Health England), issued a programme of adverts advocating switching to e-cigarettes from cigarettes for the Stoptober promotion. This was probably the first public backing of e-cigarette usage probably from any government in the world.
In January there was a report released from the US that indicated vaping was bad for you, this report was quickly rubished by not just PHE but also Cancer Research UK, you can read the full article here. So in the UK it is not just the government advocating e-cigarette usage but also independent and highly respected charities.
To add to this Cancer Research UK released a statement in February advocating the use of e-cigarettes to help people stop smoking, around the same time on the 6th February PHE released there own press statement advocating e-cigarette usage as a smoking cessation tool and pulled together various studies to provide the following summation:
- 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 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)
In summary, studies coming out of the UK and the US are showing that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, and yet many smokers are still put off switching to vaping due to negative press. I get people in my shop all the time still concerned about health concerns that have long since been proved to be incorrect and false claims. The most well known is "popcorn lung" which has been totally proved to be a false claim about the negative health benefits of e-cigarettes compared to cigarettes. While there will always be concerns about long term effects e-cigarettes might have, one thing is certain in my mind, they are still a much healthier option that tobacco cigarettes.