In a report published today by the Royal College of Physicians smokers are urged to switch over to vaping, claiming that e-cigs are the best hope in generations of saving people who are addicted to smoking.
This bombshell report shows the stark contrast between the e-cig friendly UK and the anti-vaping USA. The report is the culmination of intensive research into the health effects of vaping by the organization, which is a well-respected group that helps set medical standards in Britain.
The report goes through more than a decade of science, looking at studies that are in support of e-cigs as well as those that are against. After reviewing all of the data the report concludes that e-cigarettes are only 5% as harmful as traditional cigarettes. It claims that the long term negative effects of nicotine are minimal. The report also eviscerates the much-maligned “think of the children” argument, popular here in the States, which claims that vaping will get kids hooked on traditional cigarettes.
John Briton, director of the UK Center for Alcohol and Tobacco Studies at the University of Nottingham, leader of the committee that produced the report, said the following:
This is the first genuinely new way of helping people stop smoking that has come along in decades. E-cigarettes have the potential to help half or more of all smokers get off cigarettes. That’s a huge health benefit, bigger than just about any medical intervention.
The key recommendations of the report:
Smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability, and social inequality in health, in the UK.
Most of the harm to society and to individuals caused by smoking in the near-term future will occur in people who are smoking today.
Vigorous pursuit of conventional tobacco control policies encourages more smokers to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking is very difficult and most adults who smoke today will continue to smoke for many years.
People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, but are harmed by other constituents of tobacco smoke.
Provision of the nicotine that smokers are addicted to without the harmful components of tobacco smoke can prevent most of the harm from smoking.
Until recently, nicotine products have been marketed as medicines to help people to quit.
NRT is most effective in helping people to stop smoking when used together with health professional input and support, but much less so when used on its own.
E-cigarettes are marketed as consumer products and are proving much more popular than NRT as a substitute and competitor for tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
E-cigarettes are not currently made to medicines standards and are probably more hazardous than NRT.
However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.
Technological developments and improved production standards could reduce the long-term hazard of e-cigarettes.
There are concerns that e-cigarettes will increase tobacco smoking by renormalising the act of smoking, acting as a gateway to smoking in young people, and being used for temporary, not permanent, abstinence from smoking.
To date, there is no evidence that any of these processes is occurring to any significant degree in the UK.
Rather, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
There is a need for regulation to reduce direct and indirect adverse effects of e-cigarette use, but this regulation should not be allowed significantly to inhibit the development and use of harm-reduction products by smokers.
A regulatory strategy should, therefore, take a balanced approach in seeking to ensure product safety, enable and encourage smokers to use the product instead of tobacco, and detect and prevent effects that counter the overall goals of tobacco control policy.
The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.
Download the full report in PDF format from the Royal College of Physicians’ website.
It remains to be seen whether this report will have any impact on the vaping debate here in America. It seems unlikely that anything will sway the anti-vaping nutjobs at this point, especially when so many state governments are dependent on money from Big Tobacco.