Vaping has always been at the forefront for a lot of criticism from anti-vaping campaigners, and sceptics with them deeming it’s unsafe, no better than smoking, and can lead to young people smoking if they begin vaping first. The list is endless, and some of the claims are pretty wild to read, with some not even making sense.
But the most important thing that I reference back to if I’m having a discussion with someone about vaping is the fact that it is advocated and promoted as a safer option over smoking by not only Public Health England, but also our government. I’m going to take a look in to the history of how this has been done, and for how long they have been advocating vaping, and the reasons why people should consider reading up on these publications.
The landmark publication
Way back in 2015, Public Health England released their report in a series of annual reports which relate to studies carried out about e-cigarettes. These reports look at the safety, the usage amongst adults, and also gaining their knowledge and understanding of e-cigarettes. At the time of this article, there were 2.6 million adult users of e-cigarettes in the United Kingdom, remember this statistic!
Baring in mind that this was published in 2015, the knowledge and understanding about vaping was not as high as what it is today. This is down to the fact that Vaping was still a fairly “new” concept in 2015 and was just starting to find it’s feet within the UK. I remember I started vaping back in 2015, and the selection of devices was around 2/3 options, where as now it’s probably a hundred or two hundred times that. There weren’t many specialised vape stores back then like there are today, and certainly wasn’t a large online presence of vaping websites compared to today. Thinking back to that time, and where they were sold within my home city, they were primarily being sold on market stalls as well as pop up kisoks in our shopping centres. So the presence wasn’t massive, and people’s knowledge and understanding of them certainly was not high.
The stand out statistic within this survey is that 44.8% of adults asked were not aware that e-cigarettes are actually less harmful than cigarettes. A statistic that was a concern for PHE was that 22.1% of people believed that they are equally or more harmful than actual cigarettes, which was an increase of 14% compared to the first survey conducted in 2013. Again, this comes down to lack of education or publications on them, which is no fault of the general public being asked.
Another crucial point made in this survey other than the big one, which we are coming to, is that there was no evidence at this time that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non smokers. As I mentioned, this is an argument being made by a lot of anti-vape campaigners today that vaping is a gateway to smoking, and even today there hasn’t been any concrete evidence to prove it is a gateway.
Now on to the big point that was made in this article, that was absolutely ground-breaking at the time and legitimized vaping and that statement was
“Whilst vaping is not completely risk free, but when compared to smoking, evidence shows that they carry just a fraction of the harm. Therefore the current best estimate is that Vaping is 95% safer than smoking”
And there it is folks, the biggest statement made about vaping to this day. Public Health England making this statement then opened up the theoretical floodgates for the vaping industry, and Vaping as we know it today began to form and take shape going full steam ahead!
The continuation of support from PHE & the Government
As I mentioned above, Public Health England releases these reports every year, and the continued support and advocacy of vaping continues to show, especially in this years report which has just recently been released.
Unfortunately, even with a lot more positive press, and educational articles about vaping being released over the years, there’s still a high volume of people that believe Vaping is as or more harmful than smoking.
32% of people asked this year believed it to be as harmful as smoking, and 11% of people thinking it was MORE harmful than smoking. This is disappointing to see that people believe this, even with all the legislature being released about the safety, but unfortunately for every one good publication about vaping, there seems to be 5 bad publications about it, by either anti-vaping websites, or big time news tabloids or media outlets and even daily TV shows printing articles or speaking misinformation that people are taking as gospel.
The article covers the rising rates of youth vaping, and reference a different survey that is conducted by Action on Smoking and Health, whom I will discuss next, and they speak about the numbers are indeed rising, with the introduction of disposable vapes on to the market which are popular amongst younger people (both those who are legal smoking age, and those who are not)
They also looked into the common belief that vaping is a gateway to smoking, by asking those who took part in the survey if they smoked after they tried a vape, with less than 25% of those surveyed admitting they did. Now, this number obviously isn’t low, but it’s also not as high as these anti-vaping parties probably expected or believe it to be. So Public Health England still stand on side that vaping isn’t really a gateway for young people to begin smoking.
This years report also took a deeper dive into the science of the body of those who vape and those who smoke, look at the biomarkers which are affected when somebody smokes or when somebody vapes.
They looked into the biomarkers of current vapers, and ran some tests which showed that their biomarkers were considerably lower than that of current smokers, which comes as no surprise really. They also looked into the potential harm of passive vaping, where another person inhales vapour that somebody has produced, and it showed absolutely zero exposure to biomarkers, again which comes at no surprise.
This was the first time they’ve ever looked at something like this in such detail and getting those results from the studies is just brilliant for the legitimisation of vaping, and further proof that vaping is considerably safer than smoking!
Action on Smoking and Health provides further advocacy for the safety of Vaping
Action on Smoking and Health are a public health charity group formed by a team from the Royal College of Physicians. Their primary focus is to end the harm caused by tobacco and make people aware of the positives surrounding vaping. The work they do is nothing short of exceptional, and I frequently use their studies and articles as reference for my own work.
They also release yearly reports looking into various different subjects surrounding the usage of e-cigarettes, where they survey people in different age demographics, as well as informational articles/surveys surrounding regulations, safety and various other vaping related topics. In their most recent survey, it showed that the number of adult e-cigarette users in the UK today stands at 4.3 million, which is a 2 million jump from the 2015 survey, and equates to 8.3% of the population of the UK. This shows more people are beginning to believe all the positive press about vaping, and ignore the negatives that seem to keep cropping up at a high rate.
They’re huge advocates of vaping, and work tirelessly to create awareness on the safety of vaping by providing such trustworthy and accurate information that they spend time to correlate and release to the general public to view.
As I opened the article with, vaping always has been and continues to receive negative press and misinformation about it is rife, being spread by various outlets which the public can read or watch or listen to.
But the hard work that these charity groups such as ASH do, and the lamenting statements from official governing bodies like Public Health England should be enough to put peoples mind at ease when it comes to the safety and legitimacy of vaping. Vaping is so much safer than smoking, and it’s been proven time and time again but still people have the beliefs that it is just as if not more harmful than smoking, and this just isn’t right.
I think with more continued support by the government, PHE as well as all the pro-vaping groups proving and back that vaping is safer than smoking, it won’t be long before we see another huge leap in the numbers of adult users of e-cigarettes, the amount of people who wrongly believe vaping is harmful will go down, and vaping will prevail as the safest and best option for people instead of smoking.