Public Health England is sticking to its long-held conviction that vaping is a better alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes and that never-smokers should be encouraged not to smoke or vape.
Its sixth report on e-cigarettes, “Vaping in England: 2020 evidence update summary,” shows a decline in adults who view vaping as less harmful than smoking—from 45 percent in 2014 to 34 percent in 2019. The report also states that there has not been a major increase in youth vaping and that only 1 percent of youth never-smokers are current vapers.
Based on the report, PHE concluded that vapor products, both nicotine and non-nicotine products, should be regulated, but banning flavors would negatively affect adult smokers who are attempting to quit smoking using vapor products. The report also states that “NHS [National Health Service] England should issue guidance on vaping in mental health trusts to ensure consistency and equity across the NHS” and “the spate of lung injuries and deaths in the U.S. is not attributable to the regulated nicotine vaping products currently sold in England. But all suspected adverse reactions or suspected deaths need to be assessed.”
According to the report, perceptions of harm from vaping among smokers are increasingly out of line with the evidence. “Safety fears may well be deterring many smokers from switching, leaving them on a path to years of ill health and an early death due to their smoking,” said John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE.
Vaping advocates welcomed the report. “[The report] provides further and concrete evidence that vaping has a crucial role to play in changing the lives of smokers around the country, and it dispels the myths that youth vaping is currently a major issue,” said John Dunne, director of the U.K. Vaping Industry Association.
“However, it also tells us that the gross misinformation that has been spread about the safety of vaping has had an effect on consumers’ perceptions of e-cigarettes, which could greatly influence their decision to switch from smoking, which carries significantly more health risk.”