Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: electronic cigarettes


ASH welcomes new Public Health England Report on E-Cigarettes   

6 February 2018

Action on Smoking and Health has strongly welcomed a new report on e-cigarettes, produced by independent experts for Public Health England. [1] The report updates the evidence on e-cigarette use among adults and young people; their effectiveness as an aid to quitting by smokers; the risks to health compared to smoking and public understanding of those risks. PHE goes on to urge smokers and public bodies to act on the evidence.

The report suggests that just under 3 million people currently use e-cigarettes, but that the numbers using them have now levelled off. E-cigarettes are likely to be helping at least 20,000 people to quit smoking every year. Those smokers who switch completely to vaping are likely to substantially cut health risks. The report concludes that the evidence does not support concerns that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people. Youth smoking rates continue to decline, and regular vaping is negligible among young people who have never smoked.

However, the report raises serious concerns about public misunderstanding of the risks and benefits of e-cigarette use. Millions of smokers wrongly think that vaping is as harmful as smoking. Around 40% of current smokers have never tried e-cigarettes. And fewer than one in ten adults know that most of the health damage caused by smoking comes from the by-products of cigarette combustion, and not from the nicotine content.

These findings support the evidence from successive YouGov surveys commissioned by ASH. Between 2013 and 2017 a growing proportion of both the general public and smokers failed to recognise that e-cigarette use is much less harmful than smoking. In 2017 only 13% of adults correctly identified that e-cigarettes are much less harmful, compared to 21% in 2013. The proportion of adults thinking that e-cigarettes are at least as dangerous as smoking nearly quadrupled from 2013 to 2017 from 7% to 26%. [2]

The PHE report follows a recent report by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which concluded that “e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.” [3]

Commenting, ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said:

“The PHE report is part of a growing scientific consensus that e-cigarettes are likely to be very much less harmful than smoking and can help smokers quit. E-cigarette use has stagnated in recent years, which is hardly surprising as many smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking. We hope this report will provide the reassurance needed to encourage the 40% of smokers who’ve failed to quit but never tried vaping to go ahead and switch.

She went on to say:

“ASH supports PHE’s recommendation that smokers who have struggled to quit should try vaping as an alternative to smoking, and that e-cigarettes should be made available on prescription. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable premature death, responsible for over 1,000 hospital admissions a day in England.[4] Providing support to smokers to quit is highly cost-effective and essential for the sustainability of the NHS.”

In order to be provided on prescription e-cigarettes have to be licensed as a medicine by the MHRA. The Tobacco Control Plan for England makes a commitment to “maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking”, and it goes on to say that, “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will ensure that the route to medicinal regulation for e-cigarette products is fit for purpose so that a range of safe and effective products can potentially be made available for NHS prescription.” [5]

ENDS

Notes and Links

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash. ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line.

For more information contact ASH: 020 7404 0242, or out of hours, Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

References

[1] The evidence review was conducted for Public Health England by Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College, and Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling.

[2] The latest YouGov survey can be downloaded from: http://ash.org.uk/download/use-of-e-cigarettes-among-adults-in-great-britain-2017/

[3] National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes 23 January 2018. The US report can be downloaded from https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24952/public-health-consequences-of-e-cigarettes. The quote included in the press release comes from the summary. Section 19-4 page 500 goes into more detail:

“E-cigarette Harm

As concluded in previous chapters, e-cigarettes are likely to be less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes. Estimates of how harmful they are relative to combustible tobacco cigarettes range from 5 percent estimated by the U.K. Royal College of Physicians (TAG, 2008) to 30 to 50 percent estimated by Glantz (2016), with most agreement concentrated around the lower figure.”

[4] ONS Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2016. Published June 2017.

[5] DH. Tobacco Control Plan for England. July 2017.

ASH response to Science and Technology Committee inquiry into e-cigarettes

In December 2017 ASH made a submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into e-cigarettes. You can read the submission by following the link below.

ASH response to Science and Technology Committee inquiry into e-cigarettes

Action on Smoking and Health welcomes inquiry into electronic cigarettes

25 October 2017

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has today (25 October) announced an inquiry into electronic cigarettes.

Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomed the news. ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said:

“ASH is pleased that the Committee has launched this timely inquiry, and we look forward to submitting evidence in response. This is a fast moving market and it is crucial that any policies on e-cigarettes are based on the best available evidence. While e-cigarettes are helping smokers quit they are not a stand-alone solution to the tobacco epidemic and it’s important that the evidence is considered in the context of tried and tested policies such as taxation and regulating tobacco marketing, that have been driving down rates of smoking for many decades.” [1]

ENDS

References

[1] Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction. A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians. April 2016.

Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash

ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

ASH response to British Psychological Society endorsement of electronic cigarettes

10 October 2017

The British Psychological Society (BPS) has today urged wider promotion of electronic cigarettes as a method of stopping smoking.

In response to this announcement, Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said:

“We welcome this report setting out the role e-cigarettes can play in reducing the harm from smoking. Many smokers have found e-cigarettes helpful in quitting but confusion persists among some about the relative safety of vaping compared to smoking. 2.9 million adults in England currently use electronic cigarettes, over half have already quit smoking and many of the rest are actively seeking to do so.” [1]

Hazel Cheeseman continued:

“Evidence shows that the most effective way to quit smoking is through a combination of professional face to face support and stop smoking aids. What health professionals tell smokers about e-cigarettes is important to ensure that smokers have an accurate view of what switching to vaping might mean. It is hoped that if smokers are better informed this will help more to successfully quit tobacco for good.”

[1] ASH factsheet: Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain 2017. http://ash.org.uk/download/use-of-e-cigarettes-among-adults-in-great-britain-2017/

ENDS

Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash

ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

UK’s largest ever analysis of data shows no evidence that e-cigarettes are leading young people into smoking

29 August 2017

UK’s largest ever analysis of data shows no evidence that e-cigarettes are leading young people into smoking

Concerns that use of e-cigarettes by young people in the UK could be leading to smoking are so far not borne out by the evidence, shows a new study published today.

The study, a collaboration between UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health, and the DECIPHer Centre at the University of Cardiff is an analysis of five large-scale surveys conducted in the period 2015-17 involving over 60,000 11-16 year-olds. [1]

The findings show a consistent pattern: most e-cigarette experimentation among young people does not lead to regular use, and levels of regular e-cigarette use in young people who have never smoked remain very low. [2]

Regular (at least weekly) use of e-cigarettes amongst all young people surveyed was 3% or less. This was highly concentrated in those who also smoked tobacco. Among young people who smoke regularly (at least weekly), use of electronic cigarettes ranged from 7% to 38%. [2]. However, among young people who have never smoked, regular use of e-cigarettes was negligible – between 0.1% and 0.5% across the five surveys. [2]

Most studies of e-cigarettes and young people in the UK and elsewhere have looked at experimentation – involving ever or recent use, rather than regular use. Some of these studies have suggested that trying an e-cigarette leads to young people becoming smokers, which is not justified by the evidence.

Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling:

“Recent studies have generated alarming headlines that e-cigarettes are leading to smoking. Our analysis of the latest surveys from all parts of the United Kingdom, involving thousands of teenagers shows clearly that for those teens who don’t smoke, e-cig experimentation is simply not translating into regular use.

 “Our study also shows that smoking rates in young people are continuing to decline. Future studies on this subject need to continue to monitor both experimentation and regular use of e-cigarettes and take into account trends in tobacco use if we are to provide the public with accurate information.”

Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Policy Manager, Public Health England:

 “The findings in this study suggest that in terms of protecting children we are broadly getting the balance right in the UK.  We have a regulatory system that aims to protect children and young people while ensuring adult smokers have access to safer nicotine products that can help them stop smoking. This includes a minimum age of sale, tight restrictions on marketing, and comprehensive quality and safety requirements. We will continue to monitor the trends in e-cigarette use alongside those in smoking.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health:

 “ASH will continue to monitor the potential impact of e-cigarettes on young people, however this study provides reassurance that to date fears that they are a gateway into smoking are just not born out by the facts on the ground. A small proportion of young people do experiment with e-cigs, but this does not appear to be leading to regular vaping or smoking in any numbers, indeed smoking rates in young people are continuing to decline.”

Graham Moore, Deputy Director, DECIPHer:

“Few people would argue that e-cigarette use in young people should be encouraged. However, these surveys consistently show that the rapid growth in experimentation with e-cigarettes among young people throughout the UK has so far not resulted in widespread regular use among non-smokers. Taken alongside our other recent analyses which suggest that among young people who use both e-cigarettes and tobacco, tobacco nearly always comes first, concerns that e-cigarettes are leading large numbers of young people into addiction and tobacco use increasingly seem to be implausible.”

ENDS

 

Notes

Young people are defined as aged from 11-16 in the surveys analysed.

Contributors to the research paper include: Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), members of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (The Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, The Addictions Department at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London) and The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement at Cardiff University.

Contributors are available for interview. Please contact Stevie Benton from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) on 020 7404 0242

Funding

  • The YTPS was supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK
  • The ASH surveys were supported by grants from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
  • The School Health Research Network in Wales is a partnership between the DECIPHer at Cardiff University, Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and Cancer Research UK, funded by Health and Care Research Wales via the National Centre for Population Health and Well-being Research.

References

[1] The five surveys are:

  • The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey
  • Schools Health Research Network Wales survey
  • ASH Smokefree GB Youth survey 2016
  • ASH Smokefree GB Youth survey 2017
  • Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey

[2] Bauld L et al Young People’s Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015-2017, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017, 14, 29 August 2017 http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/9/973/pdf

Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain 2017

This fact sheet reports the results of the ASH Smokefree GB surveys on the use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain. ASH included questions on e-cigarette use in this annual survey starting in 2010 with questions addressed only to smokers.

Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain 2017

The impact of the EU Tobacco Products Directive on e-cigarette regulation in the UK

This briefing examines the impact of the EU Tobacco Products Directive on e-cigarette regulation in the UK.

The impact of the EU Tobacco Products Directive on e-cigarette regulation in the UK

ASH Briefing on electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are marketed as a cheaper, safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. As they do not produce smoke, research suggests that electronic cigarettes are relatively harmless in comparison with smoking. This briefing reviews the safety of e-cigarettes and how effective they are as an aid to stopping smoking.

ASH briefing on electronic cigarettes

ASH response to MHRA consultation on e-cigarette fees

ASH’s response to MHRA proposals on electronic cigarette fees.

MHRA-Consultation-response.pdf

ASH response to DH consultation on proposed implementation of advertising rules for e-cigarettes

ASH response to a Department of Health consultation on proposed implementation of advertising rules for e-cigarettes.

ASHconsultation_ecigadregs160104.pdf

Use of electronic cigarettes (vapourisers) among children in Great Britain

Regular use of electronic cigarettes among children and young people in Britain is rare and is confined almost entirely to those who currently smoke or have previously smoked.  Oct 2016.

34. Use of electronic cigarettes among children in Great Britain

ASH response to consultation on age of sale for electronic cigarettes

ASH response to a Department of Health consultation on age of sale for electronic cigarettes.

DHconsultation_agesaleNIP150115.pdf

Foster care, adoption and electronic cigarettes

A joint briefing from ASH and the Fostering Network.

Foster care, adoption and electronic cigarettes
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