Banning flavoured e-cigarettes would help to discourage children and teenagers from taking up smoking, according to Dame Sally Davies, the outgoing Chief Medical Officer.
Dame Sally made her remarks on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes in an article in The Telegraph, saying ‘Vaping is a lot safer than smoking tobacco and probably a good way to help people quit. But I would prefer it if we did not have flavoured e-cigarettes because I think that is the kind of marketing that can appeal to children. I think we don’t know what the long-term consequences are’.
Vaping has been encouraged by the NHS and Public Health England (PHE), due to the benefits that stem from the lack of tobacco in e-cigarettes, as well as the fact that they don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide.
But recent NHS data has shown that the proportion of young people between the ages of 11 and 15 have used e-cigarettes is on the rise. One in four children in this age group reported having ever tried using an e-cigarette.
However, Martin Dockrell, the Tobacco Control Program Lead at PHE, maintains that the current advice on vaping is effective. ‘The evidence remains clear that vaping isn’t risk free, but it is far less harmful than smoking. The UK has some of the world’s best established and most effective set of e-cigarette regulations including advertising restrictions, minimum age of sale and maximum nicotine content’.
‘Vaping is far less harmful than smoking,’ said Mr Dockrell. ‘This view is held by many across the world, including the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK, the British Medical Association and the National Academy of Sciences in the US. It would be tragic if smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette did not do so because of false fears about their safety’.
The current NICE guidelines on e-cigarettes state that they are ‘substantially less harmful to health than smoking’. However, the long-term effects of vaping and e-cigarettes have not been extensively researched and a recent study conducted on a small population of 85 mice has found that e-cigarettes may be linked with lung cancer.