Update from the Lib Dems in Wales re the vaping ban…..

As the Public Health Bill progresses through the Assembly I thought it might be useful to update you on the proposal by the Welsh Labour Government (now with Plaid Cymru support) to outlaw the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

The Welsh Government had originally wanted to ban e-cigarettes from all enclosed public and work places but Labour’s health minister Mark Drakeford has now backed down from these plans in the face of opposition pressure, and the Health and Social Services Committee has passed amendments tabled by him listing places where the ban will apply.

Vaping will now only be allowed in pubs that serve drink but do not serve food as well, and where unaccompanied children are banned. Their use will also be restricted in schools, colleges, universities, train stations and on public transport, among other places.

The Welsh Government have said that workplaces not open to the public are also no longer captured by the restrictions, but stressed that these changes are proposals and others may be brought forward later.

As Welsh Liberal Democrats Leader, Kirsty Williams has said, the list is “as clear as mud”. She added: “Just because the minister has made a separation in law of the difference between tobacco and e-cigarettes does not mean that that’s how the public will view it”.

And when the fact that many pubs where vaping will be allowed serve pickled eggs, pork scratchings, packets of crisps on the bar etc was raised with him, the Minister was at pains to say that his amendments do not cover food of that sort.

The importance of any law of this kind is that it should be easily understandable and enforceable. Unfortunately, the way this bill is now framed means that it is far from passing that test. And of course there is still no evidence of harm from second-hand vapour to back up the measures. This law is going from bad to worse.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be bringing further amendments to the next stage of this bill to try and remove these restrictions on vaping.

In the meantime please keep up the pressure by lobbying other AMs and by sharing our petition by e-mail and social media – the link you need is http://www.welshlibdems.wales/ecigs.

What else do we have to do?

The Welsh Health and Social Care Committee gave their report on the new Welsh Bill that will ban vaping in public and enclosed public spaces last week.

We were expecting a yes/no response – yes we agree or no we don’t, i.e. throw the vaping ban out.

What we didn’t expect was a no consensus answer, a ‘no direction’ answer. This means that the Assembly Members are gong to have to work it out for themselves; what they know about e-cigs, what they believe and want to do re banning vaping in public places.

Reading the report for the second time, I had a realisation as to why there was no consensus.

And I’m not 100% convinced it is because of party politics, though I am sure this has played a large part.

Could it be that many of the AMs are simply scared of making the wrong decision?

Reading the first part on e-cigarettes, there were three ‘bodies’ for the ban, 7 against it.

How did the minority that had no evidence have more of an effect than those with evidence?

Could it be that those tasked with regulating are scared of saying yes to e-cigs because of the tobacco industry and the history there? Because of the way that Tobacco Control has so successfully manipulated all our thinking around smoking?

Smokers are portrayed as bad, smelly, lazy, good for nothing people – (sorry Einstein and Churchill). The Tobacco Industry is portrayed as evil, they want to kill you for money and they lie and cheat. Nicotine is supposedly as addictive as heroine and the children are going to become hooked.

Have we all been so brow beaten in to believing this that anything that looks like smoking is evil, that even a product that is at most conservative guess is 95% safer than smoking, but looks a little like it, should be banned because people are scared of history repeating itself?

Only a few regulators will take that risk.

It doesn’t matter that expert witnesses sat in front of the committee, expert witnesses that have spent their entire careers studying tobacco control and who told the committee that banning e-cigarettes in public was a bad idea. The committee couldn’t come to a consensus, couldn’t agree, and as such could not put forward any recommendations.

This is troubling, because we now have regulations that could come into force because of a ‘possibility’. A possibility of harms, not any actual proof, and nor is the credible researching even hinting at this.

What we have is a possibility that at some time in the future there may be harms.

But how long into the future are we looking? The majority of vapers have been smoking for decades, how will we know if any of the harms are due to smoking or vaping or both? Vaping will, if this ban goes through along with the TPD be nothing more than another NRT, one that will no doubt have the same dismal success rates after all the innovation has been regulated out of it.

Non smokers are not interested in vaping, this has been shown again and again, both here and in the USA – but this is still a fear – a ‘potential disbenfit’ that vaping renormalizes smoking. Public Health in Wales believes that it will, in their minds it looks like smoking, so it will encourage smoking. Again the experts outnumbered the generalists, but the fear got in the way of the AMs – it could ‘potentially’ happen.

What of the gateway theory that should have been put to bed a long time ago? Again we have the experts against the generalists – the generalist; all 2 of them plus the Minister based their reasoning on poor, debunked science. The experts, all 4 of them, stated they are not a gateway.

The HSC Committee’s response to this? “ The Committee acknowledges that limited evidence is available about whether the use of e-cigarettes is acting as a gateway to smoking tobacco products. Nevertheless, it is concerned to learn of examples of e-cigarette marketing being targeted at children and young people.”

I could continue, but the rest of the report is in the same vein; the committee acknowledge the lack of evidence to back up the Ministers claims but they remained concerned or want more monitoring.

How is it that the experts have not managed to convince them?

Why is it that to us, the benefits are as clear as the noses on our faces?

Somehow we have ended up dealing with ideology, one that has a Health Minister when responding to the claim that if vaping is lumped in with smoking, then vapers will be put in harms way said, “people are making choices here, and nobody is forced to use an e- cigarette or a conventional cigarette or to stand next to anybody else who is using either”.

You can’t fight that mind-set with facts, or research, because it’s not based on either. It’s based on an emotion, a belief; a belief that smoking is horrible and you shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t matter if that ‘smoking’ is 95% less harmful – you still shouldn’t do it.

And the committee is seems are basing their responses on emotions too, because despite robust positive evidence, given by experts, they remain concerned.

5 AM’s supported the proposed ban, 5 would amend the proposed ban, 4 oppose it. Looking at the numbers there is still a chance that the ban may be defeated and I guess this is a hope we must cling to.

Meanwhile you can still do your bit. You all have your own story, and now would be a great time to tell it. Tell your AM how many you smoked and for how long, tell them how many times you tried and failed to quit using SSS or NRT, but finally vaping helped you.

Make it clear that for you it is a choice between vaping and smoking as everything else has failed, and when you look at it that way; vaping is clearly the better option.

 

 

Guest post by Jocelyn Davies AM Plaid Cymru

 

Jocelyn Davies AM

Jocelyn Davies AM

I believe that the Welsh Labour Government’s plan to make using an e-cigarette in an enclosed public space illegal is wholly wrong.

The e-cigarette ban will mean that vaping is treated exactly like smoking tobacco under the law. The Government risk stigmatising a new product that is helping many people reduce the amount they smoke and even give up altogether.

I have to declare a personal interest in this issue: I vape myself. I had previously been using lozenges to help me stop smoking, and had been for a long time. It was worry about the effect they were having on my teeth that prompted me to look into alternatives.

A huge amount of the growth in popularity of e-cigarettes has been fuelled by word-of-mouth. I was attending a conference and noticed two women sitting on the next sofa in the hotel lobby vaping. We fell into conversation about it and it was on their recommendation that I then went into an e-cigarette shop to get advice from them. If the Public Health (Wales) Bill passes in its current form, I would not have been able to talk to those women and the e-cigarette shop would not have been allowed to demonstrate their products to customers like me to show us how they work. I may never have discovered that e-cigarettes are, for me, a device that is incredibly successful in helping me continue not to smoke in the long-term.

If you’re a smoker, one advantage of a cigarette is that it’s a highly reliable way to deliver the nicotine fix you need. As long as you have a lighter, you can be pretty sure that your cigarette won’t fail. If you plan to use an e-cig to help you give up, you need reassurance that the device is similarly reliable and unless you’ve had a conversation and a demonstration of how they work, you’re unlikely to have faith in their reliability. Making e-cigarettes less visible and more difficult to get hold of will not promote public health. Far from the Government’s concerns that e-cigarettes normalise smoking, in my experience, seeing people vaping normalises the use of an effective tool to help you give up.

I admit that e-cigarettes are so new that little is known yet about the long-term impact they may have on health. I think it is important to remain sceptical about manufacturers’ claims that you can put a numerical value on exactly how much better for your health they are than smoking. We just don’t know yet. But Government policy should be based on evidence and so far there is no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are anything like as dangerous as smoking and plenty of evidence to show that they help people quit.

Of course, there are many places where you might want to restrict e-cigarette use. They are not appropriate everywhere. Some restaurants already stop their customers vaping inside and they should be free to do so. But to treat e-cigarettes exactly like tobacco, to make it an illegal offence to vape in a public place, is an entirely wrong-headed policy and totally out of line with people’s lived experiences. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the psychology of addiction and smoking. On this issue, the Health Minister is completely out of touch.

The ban on e-cig use is not something that should be snuck into a Bill on an unrelated topic, this is something that should stand alone. If Welsh Labour are committed to banning e-cigarettes, then they should put it in their manifesto and wait until after the election when they have a mandate from the electorate to act.

Finally, and this is a pretty radical question to ask, I wonder why we tolerate tobacco use at all anymore? We know how damaging tobacco is for public health, why not ban smoking altogether? We could encourage everyone to move to e-cigarettes instead. The Health Minister seems to be using e-cigs as his own tobacco substitute, banning them rather than banning cigarettes as perhaps he’d really like to.

The Welsh Labour Government’s knee-jerk reaction to a new technology that is helping many more people give up smoking is an unpopular mistake. I will be pressing the Health Minister to reconsider.

 

Note from the Editor:

A few people were concerned about Jocelyn’s comment re banning smoking. To clarify,, Jocelyn is not advocating a tobacco ban, she is merely speculating about the health minister’s reasons for a vape ban, and is making the point that vaping seems to his substitute for tobacco.

Our Letter to the Welsh Health and Social Care Committee

On the 17th of September the Health and Social Care Committee took evidence from amongst others, Dr Stephen Monaghan of BMA Wales and Dr Jane Fenton-May of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

In their evidence Dr Monaghan and Dr Fenton-May made a number of statements:

  • Nicotine is addictive
  • Nicotine is dangerous
  • Children share e-cigarettes and therefore contact hepatitis
  • Vaping undermines the smoking ban
  • E-cigarettes are targeted at children
  • Passive vaping is dangerous
  • E-cigarettes lead to the renormalisation of smoking and are a gateway to smoking
  • The e-cigarette industry is owned by tobacco
  • People using them do not realise that they contain nicotine

Like you, we believe that policy should be based on evidence and as a campaign representing the interests of vapers, their friends, and their families, this is particularly important to us. It was therefore interesting that when asked by two members of the committee to provide evidence, they were unable to provide a single piece of evidence to support a single one of the above statements.

Does vaping undermine the smoking ban?

There is no evidence what-so-ever to indicate that vaping undermines the smoking ban or makes it harder to enforce. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the body tasked with enforcing the ban, stated that there is a 99.7 per cent compliance rate with the smoking ban, and they have found no evidence to support the idea that vaping in public is undermining this.[1]

Are e-cigarettes targeted at children?

No. 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. Researchers from the ACS[2] 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.’

Flavours are though important for adult smokers switching to vaping. In research[3] carried out by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and others, vapers stated that the availability of flavours was “very important” in their effort to reduce or quit smoking. This research also found that the majority of vapers would find e-cigarettes “less enjoyable” or “boring” if flavours were restricted, while 48.5 per cent of vapers stated that it would increase their cravings for tobacco cigarettes and 39.7 per cent of vapers said that without flavours it would have been less likely for them to reduce or quit smoking.

Strict new advertising rules also make it impossible for the industry to target children through advertising and a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s will soon be introduced in Wales.

Are e-cigarettes used regularly by children?

 No. Looking specifically at Wales, Cancer Research UK concluded: ‘Looking specifically at two studies dedicated the use of e-cigarettes amongst young people in Wales only a minority of teenagers who try e-cigarettes go on to become regular users. And the majority of those who do use the devices regularly were already smokers.’[4] This is backed up by research undertaken by ASH.[5] We also know of no cases of hepatitis contacted from shared vaping.

Do e-cigarettes lead to a renormalisation of smoking and act as a gateway to smoking?

No. We are very lucky in the UK that a significant amount of work is done on the issues or gateway and renormalisation. This work in updated on a regular basis and is principally carried out by Professor Robert West and ASH. Both state that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes act as a gateway into smoking[6] and that there is no evidence that vaping risks re-normalising smoking.[7]

Is the e-cigarette industry really owned by big tobacco?

No. Figures produced by the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) show that of the 407 brands/companies operating in this sector in the UK only six are owned by tobacco companies. The companies they own are those that manufacture and sell the cig-a-like e-cigarettes. These are the more ineffective products that are used by an increasing minority of vapers as research from the University of East London demonstrates.[8]

Is nicotine addictive and dangerous?

 Most e-liquids will contain pharmaceutical grade nicotine. It will be MHRA approved and the same as that used in NRT products. This clean nicotine in and of itself is not a harmful substance. Professor Robert West said, “E-cigarettes are about as safe as you can get. We know about the health risks of nicotine. Nicotine is not what kills you when you smoke tobacco. E-cigarettes are probably about as safe as drinking coffee.”[9] Over the summer a number of bodies including ASH[10] and the Royal Society of Public Health[11] called for more to be done to ensure the public understand that nicotine is ‘not the deadly component in cigarettes.’

Nicotine is addictive when consumed via cigarette smoke. However, as Professor Linda Bauld and others have made clear, nicotine when consumed in a form other than tobacco is not a particularly addictive substance.[12] You can see this with vapers. Many heavy smokers when they first switch to vaping will start off using a high strength nicotine e-liquid, but over time they will reduce the strength they use and some will even go on to vape nicotine free e-liquid. Vapers often forget to vape; would they do this if they were addicted?

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.”[13] A review of the available literature conducted last year by researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia concluded that “exposures of bystanders pose no apparent concern.” Finally the US Food and Drug Administration conclude that all other substances measured for e-cigarettes were far below allowable levels for human inhalation. They state that levels are so low that it is more hazardous to an individual’s health to breathe the air in any major metropolitan city during rush hour.

Conclusion

Dr Monaghan’s and Dr Fenton-May’s statements were caveated with ifs and maybes. There should be no room for ifs and maybes in policy making. When asked they were unable to provide members of the committee with any evidence to support their statements. In this briefing we have countered their statements with facts and we have drawn those facts from ASH, Cancer Research UK, the MHRA, Professor Linda Bauld, Professor Robert West, Public Health England, ECITA, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, the ONS, Royal Society of Public Health, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, University of East London, Professor Riccardo Polosa, the American Cancer Society and others.

Banning vaping in enclosed public places is not a minor change as supporters of the ban will have you believe. Vapers will go back to smoking and fewer smokers will switch to vaping.

We have pointed out time and time again that there is no evidence to justify this ban. We have provided AMs with numerous briefings and we have written countless times to the Minister and his officials. We feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall and when we watch evidence sessions like the one on the 17th of September we simply want to cry. What do we have to do to get a fair hearing and for facts to triumph over unfounded, evidence free fears?

 

Yours sincerely

 

Save E-cigs

 

 

 

 

[1] Meeting of the All-Party Groups on Smoking and Health, Pharmacy, and Heart Disease 10 June 2014

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

[3] http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/12/7272

[4] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2015-04-16-regular-e-cigarette-use-low-among-teens-analysis-suggests

[5] http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/:latest-data-finds-no-evidence-that-electronic-cigarettes-are-a-gateway-to-smoking-for-young-people

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

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

[8] http://www.uel.ac.uk/psychology/staff/lynnedawkins/

[9] The Guardian newspaper 05 June 2013

[10] http://www.ash.org.uk/:ash-supports-calls-for-more-to-be-done-on-public-understanding-of-nicotine

[11] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/13/health-bosses-promote-e-cigarettes-harmful-tobacco-smoking-experts

[12] http://www.scottishparliament.tv/category.aspx?id=19&page=1&sort=date

[13] 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

GFN 2015

GFN

 

Save e-cigs was at the Global Forum on Nicotine, and once again the entire agenda was based around electronic cigarettes and e-liquid.

 

This is the second year the GFN has been held and the second year in the lovely City of Warsaw. This year it attracted more delegates, and dare I say it a few more of the big guns, which reflects the importance that this conference is gaining. Hon Lik the inventor of the modern day e-cig was there – (yes, there was much awe in the room when he spoke!) but also Dr Derek Yach, the man who was responsible for leading the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

 

Having him speak was not only symbolic of where e-cigarettes have come, he was also one of the loudest critics of the attitude that many in Public Health are clinging onto. During his speech  a prominent tobacco control advocate tried to defend a Dr from the BMA that had stated e-cigarettes are worse than tobacco cigarettes, (basically an indefensible statement) he roundly put her in her place!

 

The theme this year was billed as ‘a different kind of endgame’. I think this was a tad optimistic in the light of the global opposition to e-cigarettes, but there was plenty of talk regarding policy, how to engage with policy makers and politicians, plus Simon Thurlow who has been representing Save e-cigs in Wales, gave two presentations and did all of us very proud.

 

The Highlight of the conference was undoubtedly Hon Lik and the humble manner in which he spoke. I think he was overwhelmed by the strength of goodwill towards him.

 

The most exciting part was the impassioned speech by Dr Atilla Danko, but what struck me the most was the way that the scientists are 100% aware of the terrible effect the junk science and the mass media scare tactics are having, and they are just as scathing and seething towards this as we are. They are aware of just how deeply entrenched the tobacco control and Public Health fears are, and that many that are in Public Health are using a business model that is out-dated and was designed back in the 1960’s when the war against big tobacco was well and truly raging. However, we are now 50 years on from that, the world has changed beyond belief, and Public Health and Tobacco Control need to join the digital age with its digital thinking.

 

 

Overall it was a great GFN, wonderful to meet delegates from all over the world – including Australia, New Zealand and China. Once again it is very positive and reassuring experience when you are in a ‘bubble’ like that – listening to like-minded people and refreshing yourself on the latest research.

 

Shame we all had to come down to earth with a bump  due to Mark Drakeford and his ridiculous proposed vaping ban in public spaces in Wales!

 

The presentations from the GFN .

 

 

 

 

A reply from The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Ruth Hussey.

Dear Save E-cigs,

Thank you for your email regarding the recently published findings from
researchers at Cardiff University about e-cigarette use among children and
young people in Wales.

I am glad you found the research of use. It is important we increase our
understanding in this area and in doing so, work with our academic
colleagues, submitting the findings to scientific journals to ensure the
research is subject to scrutiny. I recognise that this and other studies
show regular e-cigarette use among young people is largely limited to
current and ex-smokers at present. These studies also show that regular use
of e-cigarettes, as currently defined, is limited to a small number of young
people.

As it will be some time before definitive evidence becomes available
regarding both the efficacy of e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation
and their long-term health impacts, it is important that we continue to
monitor the evidence as it emerges. In the meantime, I believe that we
should be doing everything we can to prevent a new generation becoming
exposed to nicotine, which is an addictive substance and has been shown to
impact on brain development. Whilst I recognise that e-cigarettes, along
with nicotine replacement therapy, may be helpful to smokers in giving up
tobacco, I believe we should remain cautious in our approach to
e-cigarettes, particularly use among children and young people.

Dr Ruth Hussey OBE

E-cigs, journalists, newspapers and the truth?

On Thursday of last week The Daily Mirror newspaper, either on line or in print, carried three stories relating to e-cigarettes:

 

  1. E-cigs DON’T help smokers quit fags – in fact they make it harder to stop, written by Stephen Beech

 

  1. E-cigarette health warning: Flavoured nicotine liquid packed full of danger chemicals, researchers claim, written by Jasper Hamill

 

  1. Do e-cigarettes encourage smoking? School children more likely to try ‘vaping’ than tobacco, written by Mark Smith

 

And they have recently run the following front page:

 

Mirror

 

The first story highlighted above, written by Stephen Beech puts forward an argument that using e-cigarettes actually makes it harder for people to quit smoking. The overwhelming body of credible evidence makes it clear that this is not actually the case: E-cigarettes actually make it easier for people to quit smoking, by offering them a viable and less harmful alternative. There are 2.1 million vapers in the UK and 700,000 of them have completely stopped smoking as a direct result of vaping. Robert West, Professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health 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.”[1] As e-cigarette use has risen smoking rates have fallen.

 

The second story highlighted above, written by Jasper Hamill states that flavoured nicotine is packed full of dangerous chemicals. This study is based on a tiny sample and crucially does not analyse the vapour that is actually breathed in by users. A number of leading toxicologists have already discounted its findings. The key conclusion in this study was for regulatory action to include requiring ingredient identification, limiting levels of some individual flavour chemicals, and limiting total levels of flavour chemicals. Many of these are things that responsible companies already do and the industry in the UK is working with the British Standards Institute on a recognised standard that will cover all of these issues.

 

The third story highlighted above, written by Mark Smith is very similar to the  papers front page story, namely that children are trying e-cigarettes. However, when you look behind the headline you see a very different situation. The key issue is not how many children are trying e-cigarettes, but how many children having tried them then go on to become regular vapers.

 

Recent research produced by ASH[2] demonstrated that children are not using e-cigarettes in significant numbers. The survey found 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[3].

 

Research undertaken by Queen Mary University in London[4] 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. A recent study by John Moores University found that, ‘Overall seven out of eight young people had never accessed e-cigarettes’[5].

 

What the paper’s article failed to mention was how many young people tried e-cigarettes and then went on to use them on a regular basis. There is a huge difference between trying something once and using something on a regular basis. We know from figures produced by ASH that very few young people are using e-cigarettes on a regular basis and of those that do they are confined almost entirely to those who have currently or previously smoked.[6] This is also exactly what the Cardiff University study showed. As Cancer Research UK have said, “Regular e-cigarette use is low among teens.”[7]

 

It is interesting how the paper chose to report this Cardiff University study because others papers took a different approach and arguably reported the study far more accurately.[8]

 

As a campaign representing the interests of vapers, their friends, and their families we are deeply concerned by these headlines. Not because we blindly support e-cigarettes, but because many of these headlines bear no resemblance to the articles that appear under them, more fundamentally, many of these headlines blow out of all proportion the research that the article is based on and often given undue prominence to second rate science that fails to stand up to even the most basic of expert scrutiny. One of the world’s leading experts on e-cigarettes, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos writes regularly about this warped science narrative[9].

 

These headlines and others like them are now resulting in a decline in vaping as the graph below demonstrates. The latest figures produced by the authoritative Smoking in England survey[10] show that e-cigarette use in England fell in 2014 from 22 to 18.6 per cent, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2013.

stats

 

Professor Robert West, said that “misleading” and “sensationalist” reports were putting smokers off switching to e-cigarettes[11]

We know from research undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos[12] that smokers’ perceptions of risk are very far from accurately aligned with reality. This affects their smoking/vaping behaviour. In Spain a sustained period of similar misreporting of e-cigarette safety stories resulted in a 70 per cent fall in the number of vapers. These people did not just quit vaping, they went back to smoking. As Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos makes clear, it is relatively easy for a vaper to go back to being a smoker!

 

We know based on figures produced by ASH[13] that 99.9 per cent of vapers are former or existing smokers. The latest statistical bulletin from the Office for National Statistics on Adult Smoking Habits in Great Britain, 2013[14] shows that only 0.14 per cent of non-smokers use e-cigarettes.

 

When it comes to the safety of e-cigarettes it is how safe they are compared to tobacco cigarettes. We know that there is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape. All the credible evidence shows that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London states that electronic cigarettes are five per cent of the risk of tobacco cigarettes, in other words at least 20 times safer than tobacco cigarettes[15]. As Professor John Britton from the Royal College of Physicians has 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.”[16]

 

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 media coverage of e-cigarettes is accurate and balanced.

 

 

[1] 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

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

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

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

[5] John Moores University – ‘Young People’s Perceptions and Experiences of Electronic Cigarettes’

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

[7] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2015-04-16-regular-e-cigarette-use-low-among-teens-analysis-suggests

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3040282/Many-teenagers-try-e-cigarettes-regular-users-study-finds.html

[9] http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php

[10] http://www.smokinginengland.info/latest-statistics/

[11] The Financial Times, 03 February 2015

[12] http://www.ecigarette-research.com/research/index.php/component/k2/item/85-the-importance-of-proper-information-risk-perception-about-e-cigarettes-is-the-strongest-predictor-of-dual-use&Itemid=213

[13] http://ecigarettereviewed.com/ash-uk-survey-adds-further-evidence-that-e-cigs-dont-appeal-to-non-smokers

[14] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ghs/opinions-and-lifestyle-survey/adult-smoking-habits-in-great-britain–2013/stb-opn-smoking-2013.html

[15] Professor Peter Hajek speaking at the E-cigarette Summit, The Royal Society, London on the 13th of November 2014.

[16] The Independent, 29 March 2013