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Fresh welcomes findings of national ecigs review

Fresh has welcomed a new report on e-cigarettes, produced by independent experts for Public Health England, which confirms that vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking.

 

The report updates evidence on e-cigarette use among adults and young people; their effectiveness as an aid to quitting by smokers; the risks to health compared to smoking and public understanding of those risks. PHE goes on to urge smokers and public bodies to act on the evidence.

 

The report suggests that just under 3 million people currently use e-cigarettes, but that the numbers using them have now levelled off. E-cigarettes are likely to be helping at least 20,000 people to quit smoking every year. Those smokers who switch completely to vaping are likely to substantially cut health risks.

 

The report also concludes that the evidence does not support concerns that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people. Youth smoking rates continue to decline, and regular vaping is negligible among young people who have never smoked.

 

However, the report raises serious concerns about public misunderstanding of the risks and benefits of e-cigarette use. Millions of smokers wrongly think that vaping is as harmful as smoking. Around 40% of current smokers have never tried e-cigarettes. And fewer than one in ten adults know that most of the health damage caused by smoking comes from the by-products of cigarette combustion, and not from the nicotine content.

 

The key findings of PHE's Evidence Review are that:

  • Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits;

  • E-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more.

  • E-cigarette use is associated with improved quit success rates over the last year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country

  • Many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette

  • There is much public misunderstanding about nicotine. Less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine

  • The use of e-cigarettes in the UK has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million;

  • The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people. Youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline. Regular use is rare and is almost entirely confined to those who have smoked.

 

PHE is calling on smokers and a number of bodies to act on the evidence:

 

Smokers – anyone who has struggled to quit through other options should try switching to an e-cigarette and get professional help. The greatest quit success is among those who combine using an e-cigarette with support from a local stop smoking service.

 

Local stop smoking services and healthcare professionals – should provide support to those smokers wanting to quit with the help of an e-cigarette. A new training course on e-cigarettes for healthcare professionals by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training is now live.

 

NHS Trusts – to become truly smokefree Trusts should ensure: e-cigarettes, alongside nicotine replacement therapies are available for sale in hospital shops; vaping policies support smokers to quit and stay smokefree; smoking shelters be removed; and frontline staff take every opportunity to encourage and support patients to quit.

 

MHRA – continue their work in regulating and licensing e-cigarette products and support manufacturers to expedite the licensing of e-cigarettes as medicinal quit aids. PHE believes there is compelling evidence that e-cigarettes be made available to NHS patients.

 

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: "Tobacco smoking kills one in two smokers, and North East hospitals see 38,000 hospital admissions every year from smoking. Vaping is not smoking and we do need to end the confusion around this.

 

"Most people who vape are doing so with the aim of switching from tobacco, Electronic cigarettes products are now the country's most popular quitting aid, and we need to support anyone using them to stay tobacco free. We fully support PHE's recommendation that smokers who have struggled to quit should try vaping as an alternative to smoking."

 

The PHE report follows a recent report by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which concluded that "e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes."

 

In order to be provided on prescription e-cigarettes have to be licensed as a medicine by the MHRA. The Tobacco Control Plan for England makes a commitment to "maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking", and it goes on to say that, "The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will ensure that the route to medicinal regulation for e-cigarette products is fit for purpose so that a range of safe and effective products can potentially be made available for NHS prescription."

 

To read the full report visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review

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