According to an expert independent review commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), an agency of the UK’s Department of Health, and led by researchers from King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London, e-cigarette use is around 95% safer than smoking tobacco.
“E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm,” Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said. “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.”
As confirmed by the latest survey conducted by anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health, the review found that e-cigarette use is common among people who already smoke and that only a small number of non-smokers vape. Unfortunately, this FACT is often overlooked by the media outlets that seem more concerned with brainwashing the public with misinterpreted research and even flat out unsubstantiated lies.
The PHE review also suggests electronic cigarettes, which have already become the most popular quit-smoking aid in the United States and the UK, could become a cheap way of smoking cessation in deprived areas of the worls where smoking is still prevalent. “E-cigarettes could be a game-changer in public health in particular by reducing the enormous health inequalities caused by smoking,” said professor Ann McNeil, who co-authored the study. “If I was running a stop-smoking service, I would encourage people who are interested in trying e-cigarettes to have a go. I would also be recommending all the other evidence-based medications that people can use.”
“My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health. Smokers differ in their needs and I would advise them not to give up on e-cigarettes if they do not like the first one they try. It may take some experimentation with different products and e-liquids to find the right one,” said Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University London.
“Fears that e-cigarettes have made smoking seem normal again or even led to people taking up tobacco smoking are not so far being realised based on the evidence assessed by this important independent review. In fact, the overall evidence points to e-cigarettes actually helping people to give up smoking tobacco,” Professor Linda Bauld of Cancer Research UK said about the 111-page review.
Even a spokesperson from British American Tobacco called the PHE review “an incredibly important milestone”, and acknowledged the risks posed by tobacco smoking by saying that the increasing sales of e-cigarettes would greatly benefit BAT customers’ health.
However, the reactions were not all positive. For example, a number of top smoking experts in Australia were quick to bash the review, saying it shows “naive optimism” and is based on flawed research. They insist electronic cigarettes could be more dangerous than other smoking cessation aids and that there is no real evidence that they actually help smokers quit.
“The success rates of helping people to quit smoking using e-cigarettes are largely overhyped in my opinion,” he said. “[Tobacco companies] have lots of interest in getting people to quit smoking, they want people to use both products, as is happening already,” Simon Chapman, professor of public health at University of Sydney, said. “I just despair at the naive optimism of some of these [researchers].”