Amid new confirmation that vaping is still ‘at least 95 percent less harmful than smoking’ the UKVIA calls upon ‘doubters and misinformers’ to think again.
When, in 2015, Public Health England concluded that vaping was ‘at least 95 percent less harmful’ than smoking, it was huge news within the industry.
The PHE endorsement showed the transformative potential that this emerging technology had to transform smokers’ lives.
There was a huge amount of optimism that vaping would be accepted and promoted as a viable alternative to cigarettes, but this was short-lived.
Instead of acceptance, there was a huge amount of mistrust and many medical and health care experts urged caution because the long-term health effects of vaping were not known.
Since the first PHE report was published, more than half-amillion smokers will have died (based on an average of 78,000 smoking-related UK deaths per year) but vaping has not claimed a single life.
The NHS has now embraced it as a tool to help smokers quit, vaping outlets have opened in hospitals and it is even promoted in the annual Stoptober quit-smoking campaign.
Now, the first vaping evidence review from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) has confirmed the 95 percent less harmful statistic still stands and added that vaping ‘poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking’.
Despite this, anti-tobacco harm reduction lobbyists have redoubled their efforts to demonise vaping but, as the evidence continues to mount, their arguments ring more and more hollow. The UK Vaping Industry Association says it is now time for the ‘doubters and misinformers’ to think again
Its director general John Dunne said: “It’s good to see that the experts involved in this latest review stand by the estimates that vaping is ‘at least 95 percent less harmful’ than combustible tobacco.
He said he particularly welcomed evidence that vaping, compared to smoking, had significantly lower ‘biomarkers associated with the risk of cancer, respiratory conditions, cardiovascular conditions and other health conditions’.
Dunne added: “The latest evidence review has further dispelled myths and debunked falsehoods about vaping, as well as highlighting the importance of taking an evidence-based approach to harm reduction policies. “Those who questioned and doubted that vaping is considerably less harmful than smoking and spread misinformation need to take this latest evidence seriously.”
Other key findings from the report – Nicotine vaping in England: 2022 evidence update – include:
- Vaping prevalence among adults in England has increased by around one percentage point from 2020 to 2021, to between 6.9-7.1 percent.
- The proportion of vapers who also smoke had been declining since 2012, from 91.9 percent to 49.8 percent in 2020.
- The most popular vape flavours are fruit (35.3 percent), menthol/mint (22.5 percent) and tobacco (20.9 percent).
- Just over a third of adult smokers (34.1 percent) accurately perceived that vaping was less harmful than smoking.
- Around a third of adult smokers (32.1 percent) inaccurately thought that the harms from vaping and smoking were about the same and 11.9 percent inaccurately thought vaping was more harmful.
- Youth vaping prevalence (including occasional and regular vaping amongst 11-18 year olds) was 8.6 percent in 2022, compared with four percent in 2021 and 4.8 percent in 2020.
- The main reason for vaping amongst young never smokers was to ‘give it a try’ (48.8 percent).
- The main reasons for vaping amongst young smokers were harm reduction and quitting-related reasons.
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