Public Health England (PHE) warns that misperceptions about the benefits and relative risks associated with vaping is causing a tailing off in smokers switching to the reduced harm method of using nicotine. It worries the incorrect perceptions of its relative risks is discouraging smokers and states that vaping is better than traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT).
PHE released its seventh independent report(1) on vaping in England on Tuesday 23 Feb. Again, it was produced by researchers at King’s College London. The report finds:
- nicotine vaping products were the most popular aid (27.2%) used by smokers trying to quit in England in 2020
- it is estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers stopped smoking with the aid of a vaping product who would otherwise have carried on smoking
- 38% of smokers in 2020 believed that vaping is as harmful as smoking – 15% believed that vaping is more harmful
- using a vaping product as part of a quit attempt in local stop smoking services had some of the highest quit success rates – between 59.7% and 74% in 2019 and 2020
PHE says: “The report takes an in-depth look at the latest evidence on the effectiveness of nicotine vaping products in helping people to stop smoking. The report also provides an update on the use of nicotine vaping products among young people and adults and examines the data on people’s perception of risk.”
It is believed that the COVID-19 pandemic will have had an impact on adult and teen smoking and vaping behaviours, but the authors feel it is too early to assess the full effect of the pandemic, with much of the data examined in this report being pre-pandemic.
PHE goes on to say: “Evidence over the years suggests that as the use of vaping products in quit attempts increases the number of successful quits in England also increases. It is estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers stopped smoking with the aid of a vaping product who would otherwise have carried on smoking. Data from systematic reviews since PHE’s 2018 report show that vaping products were significantly more effective for helping people stop smoking than NRT.”
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.
“For anyone who smokes, particularly those who have already tried other methods, we strongly recommend they try vaping and stop smoking – ideally with additional support from their local stop smoking service for the very best chance of quitting for good.”