E-cigarettes have been receiving negative press worldwide, despite the evidence from the UK that switching to vaping helps smokers quit. E-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) when used in a clinical setting and have helped thousands of smokers a year quit smoking. 1,2
Vaping is not risk-free but it’s much less risky than smoking, which kills over 200 people a day in England alone. 3 When people smoke, they inhale toxic tar and carbon monoxide which is not present in e-cigarette vapour.
E-cigarettes are the most popular quitting and effective quitting aid in England, but still a third of smokers have never tried vaping. The evidence is clear, smokers should be encouraged to try vaping this Stoptober.4
In the UK e-cigarettes are regulated in the UK by our medicines regulator, the MHRA. Consumers and healthcare professionals can report side effects and safety concerns with e-cigarettes or refill containers to the MHRA through the Yellow Card reporting system. Vapers should not be scared back to smoking, nor should smokers be discouraged from switching to vaping. It is essential however, to only use legal vapes bought from reputable suppliers in the UK and not source illicit unregulated products over the internet.
There were 6.4 million smokers in England in 2018 5; and though smoking rates are declining, even the Government admits it will be ‘extremely challenging’ to achieve its ambition of England being smokefree by 2030.6
In the current consultation Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s 6, in recognition of the challenge it faces the Government promises to set out further proposals at a later date.
These need to include imposing a ‘polluter pays’ charge on the tobacco manufacturers to fund tobacco control including anti-smoking campaigns, enforcement and targeted support for smokers to quit. As well as stricter regulations of tobacco marketing including, for example, requiring retailers to have a licence, raising the age of sale to 21 and requiring cigarette pack inserts, mandated by government, which provide help for smokers trying to quit on the inside to complement the health harms messages on the outside..
This Stoptober is a great opportunity for smokers to switch to vaping and achieve their own smokefree future. For the Government to do the same, will require the ‘bold action’ it has promised to deliver.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH
1. Hajek P et al, A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy, 2019
2. McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L & Robson D (2018). Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018. A report commissioned by Public Health England. London: Public Health England.
3. Department of Health, Towards a Smokefree Generation, 2017
4. Action on Smoking and Health, Use of e-cigarettes (vaporisers) among adults in Great Britain, 2019
5. NHS Digital, Statistics on Smoking, England - 2019
6. Department of Health & Social Care, Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s: consultation document, 2019