UK’s public health group debunks myths about vaping harm | Inquirer News

UK’s public health group debunks myths about vaping harm

02:59 PM August 11, 2023

UK’s public health group debunks myths about vaping harm

Clarisse Virgino – Philippine Representative to the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a public health charity set up by the UK Royal College of Physicians, released a peer-reviewed briefing paper debunking myths about vaping to help reduce misinformation.

The ASH brief particularly belied that vaping nicotine is more harmful than smoking tobacco.  It cites data showing that while more than 75,000 people die from smoking in the UK a year, only five fatalities were linked to vaping products in the last 12 years.


The ASH brief also denied that vaping is a proven gateway to smoking.  It says that if vaping were a gateway into smoking at the population level, smoking rates would show a reduced rate of decline or start to increase. “To the contrary, between 2010 and 2021, when e-cigarette use grew rapidly from a low base in England, smoking rates among children continued to fall at least as rapidly as previously, which does not support the gateway hypothesis at [the] population level,” it said.


Notably, the ASH briefing paper’s position contrasts with the view of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to push for a ban on smoke-free alternatives come the Conference of the Parties in November in Panama.

In the Philippines, consumer and public health advocacy groups have already expressed alarm over the myths about vaping harm that is repeatedly spread and perpetuated to the detriment of millions of smokers who are looking for better alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

“There exists a large collection of scientific evidence that vapes are significantly less harmful than cigarettes, yet some groups still spread lies that are risky.  This will only exacerbate the problem of smoking, which is the leading cause of premature deaths globally,” said Dr. Lorenzo Mata, president of Quit for Good.

Clarisse Virgino, the Philippine representative to the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), said the ASH brief adequately addresses the misconceptions about vaping.

She said various scientific groups in the UK, such as NICE guidance, the British Thoracic Society, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and the Royal College of Midwives endorse the use of vapes, instead of cigarettes after high-quality randomized controlled trials found nicotine-containing e-cigarettes to be an effective aid to quit smoking.

“Recently, no less than the UK Prime Minister endorsed the distribution of free e-cigarette kits to adult smokers in England in an effort to make them quit.  This only proves that vapes are much better alternatives to combustible cigarettes whose smoke is what causes diseases among humans in the first place,” said Virgino.


Vapes, heated tobacco products, nicotine pouches, and other smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes are considered tools for tobacco harm reduction. These alternative products do not burn tobacco. Science has found that burning produces smoke which contains more than 6,000 chemicals, and about 100 of those are associated with smoking-related diseases. The elimination of burning and smoke significantly reduces the chemical emissions of smoke-free alternatives by up to 95 percent.

Dr. Mata said that based on the ASH brief, real-world evidence from population surveys in England found that smokers who use an e-cigarette in a quit attempt are more likely to succeed.  This suggests that e-cigarettes have helped 30,000 to 50,000 additional smokers successfully quit each year in England since 2013.

The brief has been peer-reviewed by academics and clinicians who are addiction experts; behavior change techniques; electronic cigarettes, smoking cessation, and tobacco control; epidemiology; mental health and health inequalities; and respiratory and critical care medicine. It aims to help in responsible reporting of evidence about vaping and reduce the repetition of misconceptions as conventional wisdom, overstating the evidence with caveats downplayed or missed out, and presenting opinions as facts.

ASH clarified it strongly supports stricter regulation of e-cigarettes to reduce their affordability, appeal, accessibility, and promotion to children while at the same time ensuring that adult smokers are not discouraged from using vaping to quit smoking.

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READ: Seven-year evidence shows vaping remains far less harmful than smoking 

TAGS: Health, Smoking, Tobacco, vaping

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