The UK is one of the leading countries using vaping as a smoking cessation tool.
In fact, it is been proven to be twice as effective as alternative smoking cessation tools.
By that I mean Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
E.g. Gum, patches, lozenges and throat spray.
Currently figures points to under 40’s that make the switch from smoking deadly tobacco to vaping are the overwhelming majority.
30.1% of smokers have never tried vaping, and one reason is that 32% think that it’s more harmful than smoking.
Advising smokers on the relative risks of nicotine-containing products compared to smoked tobacco is an integral part of supporting them to quit. Safer Nicotine delivery should be promoted for all smokers.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have produced updated guidance on “Tobacco: preventing uptake, promoting quitting and treating dependence” (NICE guidance NG209, 2021). This includes advice on the use of e-cigarettes to help people to stop smoking or reduce their harm from smoking.
Public Health England’s Vaping in England Evidence Review (2021) ﬁnds that there is strong evidence that nicotine vaping products are eﬀective for smoking cessation and reduction.
So nearly a third of all smokers believe e-cigarettes / disposable vapes and vaping is more harmful than the overwhelmingly more damaging and frankly deadly smoking tobacco.
What could be driving this misinformation surrounding vaping?
I believe it’s down to a few factors including; misleading articles put out by the mainstream media every couple of months, lots of myths such as Popcorn Lung, Tobacco Lobbyists and finally they enjoy smoking, bearing in mind 50% of people with COPD continue to smoke even when they know it’s killing them. (I was in that bracket once) Finally I’ve heard reports of people feel like they look silly vaping.
Let’s break it down a bit further
Many negative mainstream media articles usually start with the dramatic headlines “If you are vaping, stop now!”
In the age of social media we are all guilty of reading a headline and scrolling past but subconsciously your brain is digesting that one headline. Firstly it was Popcorn Lung which I’ve covered in another blog and despite 78,000 people dying every year from tobacco smoke, there has not been a documented case of Popcorn Lung recorded in the UK.
EVALI stands for e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury. It was originally known as VAPI (vaping associated pulmonary illness). The new name is in response to a growing number of severe lung illness cases related to using e-cigarette and vaping products, the first being identified during 2019.
What were the real findings of EVALI?
Although the etiology remains unclear, several causes are under investigation. Of these, Vitamin E acetate is by far the most recognis““““`ed agent associated with e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI). Supporting this is the fact that a recent study identified vitamin E acetate in Broncho alveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples of 48 out of the 51 EVALI patients as opposed to none in the fluid samples obtained from the healthy control group. Vitamin E acetate was illegally being used as a diluent in multiple counterfeit, low-cost, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing cartridges. Its use as a diluent in THC-based cartridges became common in 2019, coinciding with the EVALI outbreak.
Many of those sickened in the outbreak had vaped cartridges containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the active ingredient in marijuana — that was diluted with oily chemicals.
What does The British Lung Foundation say about Vaping?
E-cigarettes and your lungs
E-cigarettes are a relatively new stop smoking tool. They are thought to be around 95% less harmful to health than tobacco and for many they are a helpful way to give up smoking. But e-cigarettes are not risk free, and more research is needed on how long-term vaping can affect the lungs and overall health. For example, we know that vaping can have some impact on inflammation in the airways which might cause harm over long periods. We don’t recommend anyone using e-cigarettes unless they are trying to stop smoking.
So, while it’s clear vaping is less harmful for health than smoking, it’s best to stop vaping eventually – especially if you have a long-term lung condition. But it’s important to not give up vaping before you’re ready, as this could cause you to start smoking again. Many of the same techniques used to quit tobacco smoking can be used to quit vaping. Remember: it’s best to eventually stop vaping as well as smoking, but if you’re struggling, vaping is a better long-term alternative to smoking.
There is no good evidence second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is harmful – this is different to second-hand smoke from tobacco smoking, which has known health risks. However it can be a nuisance to others. People who vape should be considerate and avoid blowing large clouds around others. People with a lung condition may be sensitive to the large clouds of vapour produced from e-cigarettes – similar to if your lung condition is made worse by environmental triggers, like cold weather, dust or pollen. It’s important to be aware of your own triggers so you can understand how to reduce your risk of having a flare-up.
What does The British Heart Foundation say about Vaping?
A study from the University of Dundee, published in November 2019 and funded by the British Heart Foundation, suggests that vaping may be less harmful to your blood vessels than smoking cigarettes. Within just one month of switching tobacco for electronic cigarettes, measures of blood vessel health, including blood pressure and stiffness of their arteries, had started to improve. The study looked at 114 people who had smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day for at least two years. This is a relatively small number of people, and the study does not prove that vaping is completely safe.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study suggests that vaping may be less harmful to your blood vessels than smoking cigarettes. Within just one month of ditching tobacco for electronic cigarettes, people’s blood vessel health had started to recover.
“Just because e-cigarettes may be less harmful than tobacco doesn’t mean they are completely safe. We know they contain significantly fewer of the harmful chemicals, which can cause diseases related to smoking, but we still don’t know the long-term impact on the heart and circulation, or other aspects of health. E-cigarettes and vaping should never be taken up by people who don’t already smoke, but could be a useful tool to help people to stop smoking completely.
“Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health. If you’re looking to quit smoking, don’t go it alone. There is a range of free support available, including local stop smoking services, which will help you to find the best way of quitting and boost your chances of success.”
What does the British Medical Journal say about Vaping?
E-cigarettes pose only a small fraction of the risk of smoking, and encouraging smokers to switch completely to vaping would produce substantial health benefits, says a review of the evidence commissioned for Public Health England.
The review, written by an independent panel of experts, says that under half of adults in Britain think that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking. This falls to a third among smokers who have never tried e-cigarettes.
Health professionals should tell smokers clearly that “vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking” to communicate the large difference in relative risk unambiguously and to encourage more smokers to make the switch, the report says.
England’s public health agency has reiterated its claim that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, in a new campaign to encourage smokers to quit in January.
A film, part of the Health Harms campaign, features Lion Shahab, a leading smoking cessation academic from University College London, and the GP Rosemary Leonard carrying out an experiment in which bell jars filled with cotton wool balls capture the smoke from a month’s worth of cigarettes and from electronic cigarettes.
The results show that smoking produces brown and tar filled cotton wool balls while those from the e-cigarette bell jar remain unstained.
Public Health England says that around 2.5 million adults in England are using e-cigarettes and that the devices have helped thousands of people to quit smoking.
What does the NHS say about Vaping?
In recent years, e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop smoking aid in the UK.
Also known as vapes or e-cigs, they’re far less harmful than cigarettes, and can help you quit smoking for good.
They are not recommended for non-smokers and cannot be sold to people under 18 years old.
What are e-cigarettes / Disposable Vapes and how do they work?
An e-cigarette is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke.
E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco and do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke.
They work by heating a liquid (called an e-liquid) that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and flavourings.
Using an e-cigarette is known as vaping.
Will vaping help me stop smoking?
Many thousands of people in the UK have already stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There’s evidence that they can be effective.
A 2021 review found people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, as well as having expert face-to-face support, can be up to twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.
Using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings. To get the best out of it, make sure you’re using it as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid.
You will not get the full benefit from vaping unless you stop smoking cigarettes completely.
What does Cancer Research UK say about Vaping?
Lots of people want to know if e-cigarettes are safe and it’s too soon to say for sure. But studies so far show that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking. Most of the toxic chemicals in cigarettes are not present in e-cigarettes.
Some potentially dangerous chemicals have been found in e-cigarettes. But levels are usually low and generally far lower than in tobacco cigarettes. Exposure may be the same as people who use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches or gum.
There is no good evidence that vaping causes cancer.
It’s alarming to think that 50% of people diagnosed with COPD continue to smoke. These people cite feeling hopeless and are usually middle-aged and more likely to believe that vaping is more harmful than smoking tobacco, where in other blogs I’ve shown how people diagnosed with COPD switch to vaping the benefits are positive and many who have already done this report improved lung function among other things.
Some American media outlets are demonising vaping and also medical bodies.
Often citing the dangers of nicotine!
Is nicotine dangerous?
RSPH is calling for public confusion over nicotine to be addressed as a way of encouraging smokers to use safer forms of the substance. Tobacco contains nicotine along with many other chemicals, but nicotine by itself is fairly harmless.
Nicotine is harmful in cigarettes largely because it is combined with other damaging chemicals such as tar and arsenic, and as a highly addictive substance getting hooked on nicotine is one of the prime reasons why people become dependent on cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (gum, lozenges, and patches) contain nicotine but don’t contain the harmful substances found in cigarettes.
Alarmingly RSPH research reveals that 90% of the public still regard nicotine itself as harmful and the organisation is now calling for measures to promote safer forms of nicotine products to smokers and make it harder to use tobacco.
With all this information available to the public misinformation is even coming from the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO)
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a public health charity set up by the Royal College of Physicians to end the harm caused by tobacco.
Finally if you continue to smoke and find vaping embarrassing 1) It’s a small price to pay 2) e-cigarettes / disposable vapes are designed to fit discreetly in your pocket or handbag even many vapers using larger devices opt for disposable vapes for a night out or to take to work etc. They also require no charging making them an ideal travelling companion.