Over half of UK smokers believe that vaping is as harmful or more harmful than smoking, according to Public Health England’s (PHE) new report.
The sixth independent e-cigarette report provided an update on vaping among adults and children and the public perceptions of harm.
It revealed that the mistaken belief that e-cigarettes were more harmful increased during the US lung injury outbreak in Autumn last year.
PHE has called for continued monitoring of public perceptions, fearing that misplace fears about safety will cost lives.
It is also concerned by the implications of a US-style flavour ban.
“It is concerning to see how much the US lung disease outbreak has affected smokers’ views on e-cigarettes here in the UK.
“Safety fears may well be deterring many smokers from switching, leaving them on a path to years of ill health and an early death due to their smoking.
“The US authorities have now confirmed that vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent added to cannabis vaping liquid, was a primary cause of the US outbreak.
“This substance is banned in UK-regulated nicotine vaping products.”Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England
PHE maintains that smokers should be encouraged to try regulated nicotine vaping products, along with nicotine-replacement therapy and behavioural support.
It is also calling for more research into vaping among smokers with mental health conditions and pregnant women.
Meanwhile, the government body believes that proof of age needs to be better enforced and more research into flavour preferences young people is needed.
“It is currently very hard for smokers to make sense of the many contradictory reports on the impacts of vaping and smoking.
“In our review we present evidence that suggests in England, vaping has not undermined declines in adult smoking, and for youth, vaping is mainly concentrated in those who were already dabbling in cigarette smoking.
“However, we need to remain vigilant and ensure that vaping products, alongside regular cigarettes, are not easily accessible to young people.”Lead author Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London
PHE will publish a full report on the evidence and safety of e-cigarettes in 2022.