A new independent report has backed up Public Health England’s (PHE) position that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than combustible tobacco.
The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) concluded that while not risk-free, e-cigarettes likely presented a much lower risk to health than tobacco.
The report was commissioned by PHE and the Department of Health and Social Care.
COT chair, Professor Alan Boobis, said:
“Our assessment on e-cigarettes largely reinforces the scientific consensus to date on their relative safety, that while not without risk they are significantly less harmful than smoking.”
The report also reaffirmed PHE’s opinion that vaping could be harmful to the health of individuals who do not already smoke.
Boobis also noted that while vaping would likely reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, it may present a similar risk to cardiovascular health as tobacco.
However, a 2019 study conducted at the University of Dundee found that switching to vaping improved heart health within a month.
“On the types of effects, our assessment shows that e-cigarette users might experience similar types of effects on their health as can occur from smoking conventional cigarettes, such as an increase in signs of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, particularly in those suffering from these conditions, or local irritation such as a burning sensation in the throat, nose, or eyes.
“But our study does provide reassurance that the health risks to bystanders from the vapour is generally low.”
The COT said that the possible adverse health effects from long term use of e-cigarettes are still unknown.
The committee will continue to review the issue as the science develops.