The BBC have recently reported that e-cigarettes could be the key weapon against smoking.
The vaping vs smoking debate is something that’s been going on for almost a decade. New studies are constantly being batted around the media, most claiming that vaping is the ‘healthier’ alternative to smoking, others claiming that there’s still not enough concrete evidence to suggest this. However, a committee of MPs have recently stated that rules surrounding the use of e-cigarettes should be relaxed in order to encourage society to accept them. This would mean that vaping would be seen in a more positive light and therefore see cigarettes continue to be phased out of society.
Three important points were made in reference to the MPs’ proposition:
- The report stated that the government should also consider the use of e-cigarettes on public transport.
- Public Health England stated that there is still no evidence that e-cigarettes are a gateway into smoking for younger people.
- The science and technology MPs’ committee similarly stated that the NHS too often overlooks the positives of e-cigarettes, namely how they act as a tool to help people quit smoking.
Additionally, a third of the 50 NHS mental health trusts banned the use of e-cigarettes on the premises. They claimed the ban was enforced due to a “negligible health risk” from secondhand vapour. The report called for a number of pro-e-cigarette initiatives, including:
- Greater freedom for companies to advertise e-cigarettes.
- Allow companies to reflect their e-cigarettes health benefits by relaxing tax duties and regulations.
- Consider allowing vaping in public spaces, namely office spaces and public transport.
- Holding annual reviews to discover the health effects of e-cigarettes.
Speaking to Norman Lamb
Norman Lamb, an MP behind the pro-e-cigarette initiative, claimed that:
“There’s a danger that if the common perception in public spaces is that vapers are treated exactly the same as smokers again, we miss an opportunity to encourage people to give up smoking and take up vaping.”
The MPs’ report claims that around 2.9 million e-cigarette users in the UK are vaping to help them quit smoking and “tens of thousands” have given up thanks to vaping. Lamb previously served as a social care minister and stated that it is “shocking that a third of mental health trusts within our NHS ban e-cigarettes".
Lamb continued by stating “those with mental ill health are being badly let down and NHS England appear to have failed to give this any priority. NHS England's default policy should be that e-cigarettes should be permitted in mental health units."
The report highlighted that there is simply not enough known about the harms and risks of vaping for its use to be restricted and prohibited in so many public places. The report also calls for more research into e-cigarettes to be conducted so we can better understand the health benefits in contrast to smoking.
Long-term Vaping is ‘Far Safer than Smoking’
The NHS in 2017 published an article claiming that long-term vaping is ‘far safer than smoking’ which was backed by a ‘landmark’ study. The study involved asking 181 smokers or ex-smokers to complete questionnaires and provide urine, saliva and breath samples. The study discovered that far lower levels of harmful chemicals and cancer-causing substances were found in those ex-smokers using e-cigarettes. Public Health England’s statement in 2015 provided support for this study, claiming that “e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco”.
Lamb concluded the report stating that:
“Smoking remains a national health crisis and the government should be considering innovative ways of reducing the smoking rate."
“E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same.
“There is no public health rationale for doing so”.