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Supporting Smokers to Switch

"An estimated 2.9 million adults in Great Britain currently use e-cigarettes and of these, 1.5 million people have completely stopped smoking cigarettes. They carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes and can be particularly effective when combined with extra quitting support." Public Health England


Smokers smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar and thousands of other toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. We believe in the principles of harm reduction and the importance of doing all we can to support smokers to come off the most lethal burned tobacco products. We recognise also that some individuals aren't ready yet to stop using all nicotine products but could significantly reduce their risks if they switch.


We are closely monitoring the emergence of electronic cigarettes and look at all the evidence on their use, what role they may play, what risks they may present and importantly how they may help to reduce health inequalities. This page to help signpost to the latest resources on this issue:


For smokers


If you're a smoker and are wanting to get advice on the benefits of e-cigs, or you are unsure about them, Health England's Smokefree NHS website has the latest advice on ecigs.


For professionals


Fresh has published our latest Position Statement on electronic cigarettes  which summarises the latest evidence and includes useful links to other documents.


In February 2018 Public Health England (PHE) published its annually updated e-cigarette evidence review by leading independent tobacco experts. You can read PHE's review here:


The main findings of this comprehensive review are: 

  • 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.
  • Many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette. The accuracy of public perceptions of the relative harmfulness of e-cigarettes vs tobacco cigarettes have worsened over recent years.
  • 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
  • Poisonings and fires from e-cigarettes are not common. Reports of poisonings have decreased and are rarely severe.
  • Use of e-cigarettes by adults in the UK has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million; over half of these have completely stopped smoking
  • The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are acting a route into smoking for young people. While experimentation is fairly common, regular use of e-cigarettes among young people is rare and almost entirely confined to those who have already smoked. Youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline
  • Available evidence on heated tobacco products indicate they may be less harmful than smoking but so far most data comes from manufacturers.


PHE has also published advice to help inform evidence based policies around electronic cigarette use in public places and the workplace


The National Fire Chiefs Council has published (June 2018) new guidance on: E-cigarette use in smokefree NHS settings, providing specific guidance around the use and charging of
e-cigarettes. This states that Trusts should support these strategies by maximising the opportunities while managing the lower, potential risks.


Ecigs Event - Feb 2018

On 22nd February 2018, under the Making Smoking History in the North East Partnership, Fresh held an event to disseminate the latest evidence on electronic cigarettes. The event was chaired by Professor Eugene Milne, lead Director of Public Health in the region on tobacco issues and featured Professor Ann McNeill, the lead author on the independent evidence review commissioned by PHE.


Electronic cigarettes: an evidence update - Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction, King's College London


Should we be using e-cigarettes to support smoking cessation? Professor Paul Aveyard, Professor of Behavioural Medicine, University of Oxford


E-cigarettes in the UK: Getting regulation right - Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Programme Lead, Public Health England


Evidence, perceptions and misconceptions - Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy, Action on Smoking and Health


The Cancer Research UK perspective - Carl Alexander, Health Information Expert, Cancer Research UK


The role of electronic cigarettes in NHS smokefree policy implementation - Lesley Colley, Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust


Electronic cigarettes in the North East: how this fits within the 5% by 2025 vision - Ailsa Rutter OBE Director, Fresh