Public Health England has concluded that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Kevin Fenton, National Director of PHE, states “The evidence is clear that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and that e-cigarettes are helping many smokers to quit.”
“E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm. The problem is people increasingly think they are at least as harmful and this may be keeping millions of smokers from quitting. Local stop smoking services should look to support e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely.”
However, a recent report admitted that “Continued vigilance and research in this area are needed.”
Official advice suggests that bosses should make vaping more convenient by allowing extra breaks for workers who wish to use E-cigarettes. PHE suggest that they should be given a designated area away from cigarette smokers because E-Cig users’ attempts to quit smoking may be undermined by being forced to share a space with tobacco smokers. An indoor space is preferred as, since smokers have been forced outdoors, the habit has been more publicly visible.
Around 2.8 million adults use e-cigarettes, almost all either smokers or ex-smokers, to help quit or to prevent them from returning to smoking. There is little evidence that non-smokers are taking up the habit, and this has been cited as one of the reasons for the preference of e-cigarettes over ordinary cigarettes.
The urge for extra breaks for vapers comes from evidence that, due to the lower levels of blood nicotine, they require more frequent top-ups in order to satiate the same craving as an hourly cigarette.
Vapour from e-cigarettes can be detrimental to those with asthma and other respiratory conditions, and this must be taken into account. Guidance also states that schools and other places of work where children are present should have an outright ban on vaping.
Cancer Research UK says: “We support a balanced approach towards nicotine containing products (NCPs) such as e-cigarettes, which maximises their potential to help people quit smoking, whilst minimising the risks of unintended consequences that could promote smoking.”
“We support ‘light touch’ regulation of new NCPs such as e-cigarettes, to ensure product safety and consistent dose, restrict marketing that risks re-normalising smoking, and stop them being sold to children. At present, we do not believe there is enough evidence to justify an indoor ban on e-cigarettes.”
Research continues into the risks and benefits of vaping but Public Health England intend to make it clear that vaping is not smoking and that E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.