With the popularity of vaping still growing throughout the UK, it has been announced by BBC News that MPs will carry out an e-cig inquiry, claiming there are “significant gaps” in what is known about them and how they’re regulated.

For the first time, e-cigarettes have been included in this year’s annual Stoptober campaign adding more weight behind the positive effects of vaping and although the evidence backing e-cigarettes as a quitting method is piling up, authorities are still wary about endorsing them as cessation devices.

 

Governing bodies have previously expressed concern about health effects of e-cigarettes. However. leading health organisations (Public Health England and Cancer Research) state vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and that e-cigarettes are ‘far safer’ than smoking have helped to provide confidence.

While this has undoubtedly influenced the decision to include e-cigarettes in the Stoptober campaign, it’s apparent that not all MPs are fully convinced and with unwarranted scare stories ever-present in the industry, this hesitant outlook is unsurprising.

Norman Lamb, chair of the committee said:

“They are seen by some as valuable tools that will reduce the number of people smoking ‘conventional’ cigarettes, and seen by others as ‘re-normalising’ smoking for the younger generation.

“We want to understand where the gaps are in the evidence base, the impact of the regulations, and the implications of this growing industry on NHS costs and the UK’s public finances.”

While this somewhat doubtful approach may seem like a negative view on vaping, the confidence we have in vaping means that results from this type of research should in fact add further credibility to e-cigarettes.

 

Liam Humberstone, Technical Director, Totally Wicked said:

“Totally Wicked welcomes the opportunity for objective inquiry and analysis of the e-cigarette industry and its products. We hope that it will dispel much of the negative media reporting that e-cigarettes have been subjected to, and further support the acknowledgement of health benefits from switching to vaping that Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians and many others have quite justly promoted. ”

John Britton discusses e-cigarettes on BBC one

The topic of the inquiry was discussed on BBC Breakfast this morning as Professor John Britton, Director, UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies shares his positive but balanced views on the news of the e-cig inquiry and helps to clear up some contentious issues that surround vaping.

He started by discussing the long term effects of vaping as he explained that while it may be likely that there will be long term health effects of e-cigarettes, it’s important to compare the relative risk of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. He states that ‘the long term risks of smoking are so massive that it is inconceivable that e-cigarettes could reproduce them’ before advising that:

“Any smoker that makes the switch to e-cigarettes is doing their health a favour.”

He welcomes the inquiry to uncover any pick up any “avoidable” health harms sooner rather than later as he states:

“Our challenge is to harness this benefit while protecting the users against any unnecessary or avoidable risk.”

 

Britton then answers why the National Institute for Health Care (NICE) do not recommend e-cigarettes as a tool to help smokers quit. The reason he gives is that NICE operate to different rules and find it difficult to recommend products that don’t have a medical license but explains the empirical evidence is clear.

This empirical evidence is that:

1.5 million of the almost 3 million vapers are now ex-smokers and the decline of smoking prevalence  is almost twice as fast as it was before e-cigs came about.

Despite this evidence, he can’t see ‘decent e-cigs’ getting a medical license in the predictable future because medical regulation is so “onerous and unsuited to these products”.

Concluding the interview, Professor Britton discusses the often misunderstood topics of ‘e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking’ and the ‘effects of nicotine’ as he points out that while young people do experiment with e-cigs, comparing this with tobacco smoking it is “very small” and those who try e-cigarettes who would have not otherwise become a smoker is “vanishingly small”.

Finally, he dismisses the threat of nicotine as he compares the effects with those of caffeine and states:

 “It’s not the nicotine that kills, it’s the other things in the smoke.”

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