E-cigarettes are both the most popular and the most successful stop-smoking aid in England, according to a new report from Public Health England (PHE).
The Vaping in England 2021 report is PHE’s seventh such report and explores the evidence supporting vaping for smoking cessation as well as youth use statistics and data on people’s perception of risk.
The report, carried out by researchers at King’s College London (KCL), found that:
– In 2020, nicotine e-cigarettes were the most popular stop smoking aid (27.2 percent), compared to 18 percent for nicotine replacement therapy and 4.4 percent presciption medication
– It is estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers successfully stopped smoking with the aid of an e-cigarette who would have not otherwise done so
– Using an e-cigarette in conjunction with local stop smoking services support demonstrated success rates of between 59.7 percent and 74 percent in 2019 and 2020.
PHE believes that ‘unfounded safety fears’ about vaping are continuing to put smokers off switching.
Data from the Smoking Toolkit Study found that 38 percent of adults believed that vaping was as harmful as smoking.
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE, said:
“Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease – killing almost 75,000 people in England in 2019. The best thing that a smoker can do is to stop smoking completely and the evidence shows that vaping is one of the most effective quit aids available, helping around 50,000 smokers quit a year.
“Thousands more could have quit except for unfounded safety fears about e-cigarettes. The evidence has been clear for some time that, while not risk-free vaping is far less harmful than smoking.”
On the question of youth use, the report cited data from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which found that around 4.8 percent of 11-18-year-olds vaped at least once a month in 2020.
Less that 1 percent of young people who had never smoked were current vapers.
ASH chief executive, Deborah Arnott, said that more should be done to encourage smokers to switch if we are to achieve a smoke-free nation by 2030. However, authorities should also ‘elimitat[e] loopholes in the laws which could be used to promote products to teenagers.’
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, said:
“E-cigarettes are a still relatively new product – they aren’t risk-free as we don’t yet know their long-term impact. We strongly discourage people who haven’t smoked from using them, particularly young people.
“But research so far shows that vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco and, as this report emphasises, can help people to stop smoking. The long-term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown but the long-term harms of tobacco are indisputable.
“Support from stop smoking services remain the most effective way to help people quit for good. Services can help people find the tool that works for them, e-cigarette or otherwise, and give them the best chance of reducing their risk from tobacco.”
Source: Public Health England