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Health Minister Andrea Leadsom Wrongly Confuses Nicotine and Smoking in Westminster Debate

By Oliver Smith 18th January 2024 2 Mins


The UK Vaping Industry Association has written to Health Minister Andrea Leadsom after she wrongly told a Westminster Hall debate that nicotine ‘causes 70 percent of lung cancer deaths’.

The debate focused on the Government’s plans for a smoke-free generation and heard that the public wanted politicians to take the lead to end smoking.

It came after Cancer Research UK reported that the Government was almost a decade behind its plans for England to become smoke free by 2030 with some of the most deprived areas not on track to hit the target until after 2050.

However, the Health Minister caused confusion when she told MPs:

“Unlike other consumer products, there is no safe level of nicotine consumption; it is a product that kills up to two thirds of its long-term users and causes 70% of lung cancer deaths.”

Describing the comments as ‘fundamentally incorrect,’ UKVIA Director General John Dunne wrote to the minister to express his concerns about her words.

Dunne said in his letter:

“This statement is fundamentally incorrect, suggesting a potential confusion between the health impacts of cigarette smoking and nicotine consumption.

“Such a misconception is concerning as it poses a risk of leading the government to draw inaccurate conclusions on how to minimise the health impacts of smoking.

“For the sake of clarity, please understand that there is no evidence that consuming nicotine causes any form of cancer.

“Despite nicotine being a highly addictive substance, it’s crucial to highlight that the heightened risk of cancer associated with cigarette smoking stems from at least 69 other chemicals present in cigarettes.

“Importantly, there is no evidence establishing a causal link between nicotine consumption and increased cancer rates.”

According to Cancer Research UK:

“Nicotine is the chemical that makes cigarettes addictive but it is not responsible for the harmful effects of smoking and nicotine does not cause cancer.”

NHS UK says:

“Nicotine itself does not cause cancer, lung disease, heart disease or stroke and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking.”

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Oliver Smith