Public Health England Reaffirms Stance On E-Cigarettes, Calls For Hospitals To Support Them As Smoking Cessation Tools
PHE even goes as far as to suggest hospitals allow vaping in bedrooms of long-stay patients in single rooms
The federal health agency for England, Public Health England, has long been one of the most respected and vocal supporters of vaping as a smoking cessation tool. It was back in 2015 when they released their now famous report indicating that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Coming at a time when questions about the risks of vaping were rampant, and evidence was minimal, the 2015 report spurred many smokers into quitting through the use of e-cigarettes.
Now they’re ready to release an update of their stance, publishing a review of the evidence gathered since their last report. After going through all of the results, the researchers still believe that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. This time though, PHE is willing to go out on a limb and claim that anyone struggling to quit smoking, including pregnant women, should be advised to attempt quitting using e-cigarettes. But this was far from the only surprising development published in the report.
New PHE Report
This new look at the impact of vaping by PHE found that at least 20,000 people are quitting smoking each year thanks to the help of e-cigarettes. Their analysis says this number could even be as high as 57,000 lives saved every year. In light of these findings, Public Health England is doubling down on their endorsement of vaping for smoking cessation purposes. They now say that hospitals should create vaping lounges, and even start selling e-cigarettes to help combat the ever-present smoking epidemic. But perhaps the most exciting portion of their report stated doctors should start prescribing vaporizers to smoking patients as a means of increasing awareness and uptake. They noted that while statistics indicate smoking kills as many as two in three users, over half of smokers still believe vaping and smoking to have similar levels of risk.
Ultimately, they want it to be easier for smokers to make a transition to vaping by getting health agencies and officials to back vaping and its dramatic harm reduction value. Including calling on the National Health Service to loosen their restrictions on where people can vape. The Tobacco Control Lead for PHE, Martin Dockrell, thinks that hospitals should even allow patients in single rooms vape if they’re stuck in the facility for an extended period. All of these moves would hopefully foster a much higher rate of adoption and continued success.
In a potentially controversial quote, report author Prof Linda Bauld said that pregnant women shouldn’t be discouraged from vaping. But this was only if the alternative is that they’d continue smoking. Prof Bauld explains her reasoning, “The priority is that we don’t want pregnant women smoking now, we want them to stop. We can’t wait three years for the trial.” She noted that while it’d be best to entirely cut out smoking or vaping, supporting a switch to vaping over continued smoking is nothing short of an incredibly pragmatic approach. When you take a closer look at the public understanding of vaping, it becomes apparent why they would feel the need to place so much emphasis there.
Public Understanding Of Vaping
As noted before, it’s well documented since at least 2015 that vaping is around 95% safer than smoking, yet reports show that over half of smokers, and even fewer non-smokers, understand that vaping is so much safer. Some actively believe that vaping is worse, while many just simply don’t know, but regardless of why these figures have become one of the most significant problems facing the vaping industry.
Ann McNeill, who is the lead professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College in London, firmly believes it’s a big deal that so many smokers still don’t seem to understand why making a switch to vaping is worthwhile. According to McNeill, “When people smoke tobacco cigarettes, they inhale a lethal mix of 7,000 smoke constituents, 70 of which are known to cause cancer, the toxic smoke is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of all the tobacco-related disease and death.” She added that even though most people think of nicotine as a dangerous substance, it’s only causing a minimal amount of long-term damage if any.
As vaping grows into its own as a viable and effective smoking cessation tool, one of the most significant hurdles it faces is convincing a more substantial portion of the public that they’re legitimate health aides. There is still years of research needed before all the questions about their safety can be fully answered, but reputable researchers are starting to reach the consensus that vaping is around 95% safer than traditional cigarettes. Studies have even shown that the lifetime excess cancer risk of vapers is 57,000 times lower than that of smokers. Something else is at work, and independent evidence is apparently not enough to thoroughly convince the public.
Many vapers blame the mainstream media’s insistence on pushing headline catching stories of statistically insignificant battery explosions, or focusing on negative portions of overall positive studies on the effects of vaping. Whatever the case may be, it’s imperative that we help spread the real benefits of vaping so that more smokers will understand how it could potentially save their lives. Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE put it best when he said, “It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”
Do you think it’s vital that Public Health England doubled down on their support of vaping? What do you think needs to happen for vaping to become more accepted in the general public? Do you believe that the media is one of the leading culprits? If not, what do you think prevents broader understanding? Let us know in the comments.