The latest review on e-cigarettes from Public Health England

The latest review on e-cigarettes from Public Health England

It’s no secret that Public Health England (PHE) is one of the country’s leading bodies advocating the use of e-cigarettes. Their recent evidence review, undertaken by leading independent tobacco experts sheds further light on this growing industry and its impact on both health and public attitudes.

Providing a much-anticipated update to their findings back in 2015, the new review from PHE details e-cigarette use amongst young people and adults, alongside the changing attitudes of the public, the impact on quitting smoking, the current role of nicotine and also an update on the risks of e-cigarettes.

Here were their key findings:

  • Switching completely to vaping from smoking conveys substantial health benefits, with vaping posing only a small fraction of the risks of smoking
  • E-cigarettes are thought to be contributing to at least 20,000 successful quits each year
  • E-cigarette use is associated with improved quit success rates in the past year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country
  • Around 40% of tobacco smokers have not yet tried an e-cigarette, with thousands incorrectly believing that vaping is harmful
  • There is a significant public misunderstanding about nicotine. Less than 10% of adults understand that most of the health risks from smoking are not caused by nicotine
  • The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people, in fact, youth smoking rates in the UK are continuing to decline
  • While experimentation with e-cigarettes among young people has increased in recent years, regular use remains low. Only 1.7% of under-18s use e-cigarettes weekly or more and the vast majority of those also smoke.

Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE commented: “Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone. Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders.”

He added: “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.”

One of the greatest concerns to bodies such as PHE is still the significant lack of understanding amongst smokers as to what actually causes the harm from smoking cigarettes. Tobacco cigarettes contain a lethal mix of 7,000 smoke constituents when inhaled, 70 of which are known to cause cancer.

It’s the nicotine hit that smokers crave, though contrary to popular belief, this chemical causes little if any of the harm. With such a vast variety of alternative ways of getting nicotine than ever before, the thousands of lethal toxins can be much more easily avoided.  

What is the NHS doing?

PHE firmly believes that there is compelling evidence that e-cigarettes should be made available to NHS patients as a method of smoking cessation.

With this in mind, they have suggested the following measures be taken by NHS Trusts as we work towards a smoke-free future:

  • E-cigarettes, alongside nicotine replacement therapies, are available for sale in hospital shops
  • Vaping policies support smokers to quit and stay smoke-free
  • Smoking shelters within the hospital grounds should be removed
  • Frontline staff take every opportunity to encourage and support patients to quit

This is also very much aligned with the government’s new Tobacco Control Plan for England, which includes a commitment to ‘maximising the availability of safer alternatives to smoking’.

The Plan makes it abundantly clear that e-cigarettes have an important part to play in achieving the ambition for a smoke-free generation.

Something that we at Red Box Liquids feel very passionate about and will continue to support for years to come.


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