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Experts in NE present latest findings on e-cigarettes

National experts will be in the North East this week at a major health event to present the latest evidence on electronic cigarettes.


Fresh is hosting a "Making Smoking History in the North East Partnership" event on February 22  with attendees from across local government, the NHS, voluntary and community sector and academia coming together to explore the latest evidence on safety and effectiveness, and hear how the devices are helping thousands of smokers to quit.


It comes just two weeks after Public Health England (PHE) released a major independent evidence review of e-cigarettes which made national headlines. Experts who led the review, including Professor Ann McNeill; a Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King's College London, will be presenting at the event.


Other speakers include Professor Paul Aveyard - Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Oxford, Martin Dockrell – tobacco control programme lead from Public Health England, Lesley Colley from Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust, Carl Alexander – health information expert at Cancer Research UK and Ailsa Rutter OBE - Director of Fresh.


Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: "This is a unique opportunity to hear from and question a panel of world experts. Our event is timely given the recent publication of the independent evidence review commissioned by PHE.


"Tobacco smoking kills one in two long term smokers, and North East hospitals see 38,000 hospital admissions every year from smoking. But 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. E-cigarettes 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."


Professor Ann McNeill, lead author of the PHE report and Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King's College London said: "E-cigarettes are estimated to be substantially less harmful to health than tobacco – but it is a huge concern that many smokers are put off switching as they aren't sure it will be better for their health.  We do need to tackle these misconceptions.


"People smoke for the nicotine, but contrary to what the vast majority believe, nicotine causes little if any of the harm. The toxic smoke is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of all the tobacco-related disease and death.


"If anyone is vaping and struggling to quit smoking completely, we would advise them to seek help from a local stop smoking service to increase their chances of stopping."


Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust went smokefree in March 2016 and Lesley Colley, the trust's project lead for smoking cessation will be sharing the trust's experiences of going smokefree while allowing patients to use e-cigarettes as well as other forms of NRT to quit.


Lesley said: "E-cigarettes have definitely helped some of our patients to quit smoking, who I believe would have found it very difficult otherwise. Along with going smokefree and encouraging all patients who smoke to quit, patients having access to both NRT and e-cigarettes has helped us cut smoking rates among patients from 42% to 21%.


"For those people who were the most heavily addicted, it has been about helping them to manage nicotine while avoiding the large doses of harmful poisons in tobacco which cause most of the harm from smoking."


The key findings of PHE's independent 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.


The event will be chaired by Professor Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health with Newcastle City Council and lead Director of Public Health in the North East for tobacco issues.

To read the full Public Health England report visit