The Government has announced this week, its ‘Tobacco Control Plan’ which aims to aims to slash smoking rates from 15.5% to 12% of the population by 2022.
The NHS reports cigarette smoking “is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.”
According to the Action on Smoking and Health, 2.9 million people now vape in Britain, with half saying they are using it to stop smoking, something that is encouraged by the NHS, Public Health England and The Royal College of Physicians, which explains:
“In the interests of public health, it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.”
Vaping is also a cheaper alternative to smoking. The price of tobacco products has rocketed by 99% since 2005 with inflation and the increase of taxation. Just this year, the Chancellor Philip Hammond, announced in the Spring Budget, the average price of a pack of 20 premium cigarettes would rise from £9.91 to £10.26 under new taxation. According to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) A 20-a-day smoker of a premium brand will spend about £3,600 a year on cigarettes.
Despite the obvious health and monetary benefits for stopping smoking, vaping has been suffering a bit of an image problem recently, with attacks claiming it is a gateway to smoking for young people, and causes health problems for the user and those around them.
These are the 3 most common myths around vaping that are currently circulating:
1. It’s just as bad as smoking
As first glance, looking at someone smoking an e-cig, it would probably look like they are doing exactly the same as someone smoking a cigarette… they’re still breathing in a substance after all, right?
But the biggest difference between an e-cig and a cigarette is that e-cigs don’t contain any tobacco.
Tobacco smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, of which 250 are dangerous and 69 are known to cause cancer.
Chemicals can get into cigarettes in different ways. Some are found naturally in the tobacco plant, some are absorbed by the plant from the soil, air or fertilisers, and some are formed when tobacco leaves are processed or are added by the tobacco industry. Others form when a cigarette burns, so are only present in the smoke coming off a cigarette.
Tobacco is linked to many types of cancer, including throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukaemia.
2. It encourages young people to smoke cigarettes
The bright and colourful flavours vaping offers, along with its affordability, have led some anecdotal opinions that vaping could be a gateway to the habit of smoking in young people.
However, as The Royal College of Physicians explains:
“There are concerns that e-cigarettes will increase tobacco smoking by renormalising the act of smoking, acting as a gateway to smoking in young people, and being used for temporary, not permanent, abstinence from smoking.
However, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.”
Furthermore, according the ONS, ‘The biggest decline (in smoking cigarettes) since 2010 has been among 18-24 year-olds, where it has dropped five percentage points to 20.7% in five years.’
3. It’s dangerous to breathe in second-hand smoke
Second-hand smoke from cigarettes increases a non-smoker’s risk of getting lung cancer by a quarter. And with the big clouds of vapour that e-cigs create, you could be mistaken for thinking that it’s very dangerous for those around you too.
But the big difference between e-cigs and traditional cigarettes is the lack of burning, because e-cigs heat up electronically and not through burning, no smoke is actually released. The vapour clouds are actually made of water vapour, containing propylene glycol and/or glycerine.
A report from the NHS has shown that ‘E-cigarettes release negligible amounts of nicotine into the environment, and no health risks to bystanders (e.g. passive smoking) have been identified.’
“There is no evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour and available evidence indicates that any risk of harm is extremely low, especially when compared with tobacco smoke.”