06 Feb 2018
A new PHE e-cigarette evidence review, undertaken by leading independent tobacco experts, provides an update on PHE’s 2015 review. The report covers e-cigarette use among young people and adults, public attitudes, the impact on quitting smoking, an update on risks to health and the role of nicotine. It also reviews heated tobacco products.
The key findings of PHE’s Evidence Review are that:
PHE’s evidence review comes just a few weeks after a US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on e-cigarettes. Their conclusion on e-cigarette safety also finds that based on the available evidence “e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.”
Prof. John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE said:
“Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone.
“Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.
“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.”
Prof. Ann McNeill, lead author and Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London said:
“It’s of great concern that smokers still have such a poor understanding about what causes the harm from smoking. When people smoke tobacco cigarettes, they inhale a lethal mix of 7,000 smoke constituents, 70 of which are known to cause cancer.
“People smoke for the nicotine, but contrary to what the vast majority believe, nicotine causes little if any of the harm. The toxic smoke is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of all the tobacco-related disease and death. There are now a greater variety of alternative ways of getting nicotine than ever before, including nicotine gum, nasal spray, lozenges and e-cigarettes.”
Prof. Linda Bauld, author and Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling and Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention, Cancer Research UK said:
“Concern has been expressed that e-cigarette use will lead young people into smoking. But in the UK, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate. We need to keep closely monitoring these trends, but so far the data suggest that e-cigarettes are not acting as a route into regular smoking amongst young people.”
PHE is calling on smokers and a number of bodies to act on the evidence:
The Government’s new Tobacco Control Plan for England, includes a commitment to “maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking”. It makes clear that e-cigarettes have an important part to play in achieving the ambition for a smokefree generation.
Ann McNeill 1,2, Leonie S Brose 1,2, Robert Calder 1, Linda Bauld2,3,4, Debbie Robson 1,2
Additional contributors to individual chapters:
Ilze Bogdanovica (Ch 11) 2,5, John Britton (Ch 11) 2,5, Jamie Brown (Ch 7)2,6, Peter Hajek (Ch 4,9) 2,7, Hyun Seok Lee (Ch 12) 1, Magdalena Opazo Breton (Ch 11) 2,5, Lion Shahab (Ch 7,9) 2,6, Erikas Simonavicius (Ch 12) 1, Robert West (Ch 7)2,6
1 King’s College London
2 UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies
3 University of Stirling
4 Cancer Research UK
5 University of Nottingham
6 University College London
7 Queen Mary, University of London
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