Dear Public Health England,

We are writing in regard to the well-publicised reports that Public Health England (PHE) is considering a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

We provide a united voice not just for e-cigarette users, but also their friends and families, the forgotten millions in this debate. We wish to see e-cigarettes robustly regulated as a consumer product and freely available to those who want to switch.

We note that yesterday ( 01 May 2014 ) PHE made a statement, via Twitter, that stated: “PHE has not called for a ban on e-cigarette use in public spaces”. However, we do not consider this a satisfactory response and nor do the many vapers we have been in contact with since this news story broke. Our campaign, and others, never stated that PHE “called” for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places, we stated that PHE are “considering recommending” a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places. The leaked minutes[1] of the PHE meeting in February make clear that the recommendation of a ban is being considered, and to date, no one from PHE has denied that the recommendation of a ban is being considered.

The leaked minutes of PHE’s February meeting revealed that PHE is also considering a raft of other draconian and counter-productive recommendations. These include: restrictions on the promotion of e-cigarettes, regulation of packaging, a ban on the use of flavours, and the requirement for e-cigarettes to become a formal NRT product.

Such proposals, if implemented, can only lead to a negative public health outcome; let us explain why.

Are Tobacco cigarettes dangerous?

Yes. In the UK each year 114,000 people die from tobacco related illnesses according to figures produced by the NHS[2].

 

Are e-cigarettes safer than tobacco cigarettes?

Yes. Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University London and the NHS have both made clear that e-cigarettes are “orders of magnitudes safer than tobacco cigarettes.”[3]

 

Are licensed NRT products better than e-cigarettes?

No. The key health benefit of e-cigarettes is determined by how many smokers switch to them or use them as a staging post to quitting completely. It is therefore vital that e-cigarettes continue to be regulated as a consumer product. Many vapers have tried numerous times to quit smoking using conventional nicotine replacement therapies, which have a 90 per cent failure rate, and have failed, however with e-cigarettes they have all cut down their smoking or stopped completely. Professor Robert West said:“We found that those using the e-cigarette were about 60 per cent more likely still not to be smoking than those using the licensed product or nothing at all.”[4] E-cigarettes are however not some form of more effective nicotine replacement therapy, they are totally different and need to be regulated accordingly.

 

Is it therefore better for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes?

Yes. Professor John Briton said: “If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started using e-cigarettes we would save five million deaths in people who are alive today. It’s a massive potential public health prize.”[5]

 

Do e-cigarettes act as a gateway to smoking?

No. Commenting on ASH’s latest research, Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said: “There is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”[6]

 

Are they used by children, who are particularly attracted by flavouring?

No. A recent survey commissioned by ASH has shown that regular use of e-cigarettes amongst children and young people is rare and is confined almost entirely to those who currently or have previously smoked[7]. Research undertaken by Queen Mary University in London[8] found that a child trying a tobacco cigarette for the first time is 50 per cent likely to become a regular smoker. The same research found no evidence that a child trying an e-cigarette for the first time goes on to become a regular vaper.

Evidence produced by a variety of organisations including ASH and the American Cancer Society (ACS) clearly shows that flavours do not entice non-smokers to use e-cigarettes either. Researchers from the ACS[9] found that flavours did not increase the attractiveness of e-cigarettes to teenagers. Rather, “Even after controlling for other statistically significant correlates, the odds of a smoker being willing to try an e-cigarette were 10 times those of a non-smoker.” Tobacco cigarettes are the gateway to tobacco smoking, not e-cigarettes.

 

Is passive vaping dangerous?

No. A major scientific study undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Professor Riccardo Polosa concluded that the “effects of e-cigarette use on by standers are minimal compared with conventional cigarettes.”[10]

 

Do e-cigarettes re-normalise smoking?

No. Professor Robert West said: “Despite claims that electronic cigarettes risk re-normalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this.”[11]

 

Are e-cigarettes popular with non-vapers?

Yes. A recent poll by the BBC[12] found that 75 per cent of the public would be happy if their friends or family switched from smoking tobacco cigarettes to using e-cigarettes, and 62 per cent of the public said that e-cigarettes should not be banned in public.

 

In conclusion, smoking tobacco cigarettes kills 114,000 people a year according to figures produced by the NHS. Conventional NRT products with their 90 per cent failure rate do not work. E-cigarettes are a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes that are popular and work as an effective alternative to tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not re-normailse smoking. E-cigarettes do not act as a gateway to smoking. E-cigarettes are not attractive to children. Flavours in e-cigarettes do not make them more attractive to children or non-smokers. There is no problem with passive vaping. The rise is e-cigarette sales are directly contributing to a decline in tobacco cigarette sales. E-cigarettes enjoy wide support amongst the general public. In the words of Professor Robert West: “What is the problem that requires further regulation?”[13]

Perhaps you would be good enough to enlighten us!

 

Yours Sincerely,

Save e cigs.

 

[1] http://www.itv.com/news/update/2014-04-30/e-cigarette-ban-suggested-government-meeting/

[2] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2344.aspx?CategoryID=53

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27161965

[4] Study carried out on 5,000 smokers, by Professor Robert West looking at the success rate of different methods to stop smoking: nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nothing, or e-cigarettes. Reported on BBC Breakfast 28 April 2014

[5] The Independent Newspaper, 29 March 2013

[6] http://metro.co.uk/2014/04/27/e-cigs-cleared-of-being-route-into-smoking-4710734/

[7] http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_891.pdf

[8] Research undertaken by Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London

[9] http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(12)00409-0/fulltext

[10] Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review:

Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and Riccardo Polosa

published online 13 February 2014 Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety

[11] http://metro.co.uk/2014/04/27/e-cigs-cleared-of-being-route-into-smoking-4710734/

[12] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24909648

[13] Professor Robert West, Professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health speaking at the E-cigarette Summit, The Royal Society, London on the 12th of November 2013.

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