Public Health England and other public health organizations in the United Kingdom recently issued a joint statement declaring that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking.
The group, which includes Cancer Research UK, British Lung Foundation and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, among others, agreed that “the health risks posed by e-cigarettes are relatively small by comparison” but stressed that studies on the long term effects of vaping as an alternative to smoking must be continued.
“We have a responsibility to provide clear information on the evidence we have, to encourage complete smoking cessation and help prevent relapse to smoking. The public health opportunity is in helping smokers to quit, so we may encourage smokers to try vaping but we certainly encourage vapers to stop smoking tobacco completely,” they said.
Vaping is the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer, the tobacco-free version of the traditional cigarette.
According to statistics, smoking among adults in England has gone down by one-third and among children by two-thirds mostly due to a strong public health consensus on tobacco control embodied in their landmark Smoking Still Kills report. However, almost one in five adults continue to smoke with big numbers coming from underprivileged communities.
The group also pointed out that millions of smokers have the impression that e-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco. Over 1.3 million UK e-cigarette users have completely stopped smoking and almost 1.4 million others continue to smoke.
E-cigarettes are the most popular quitting tool in the UK with more than 10 times as many people using them than by means of local stop smoking services. “However, we also know that using local stop smoking services is by far the most effective way to quit,” they averred.
The current statistics in the UK show that regular e-cigarette among youth use is almost exclusively confined to young people who have already smoked, and while youth smoking prevalence continues to fall, the group asserts that close surveillance is still needed. Since October 2015, regulations to protect children make it an offence to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 or to buy e-cigarettes for them.
Smoking is acknowledged as the number one killer in England.