Public Health England’s official blog was created to give insight from the experts about its work and to provide plain English explanations of public health issues. Professor John Newton used the outlet to explain the eight things everybody should know about vaping.
Professor John Newton has been Public Health England’s Director of Health Improvement since 2012. He has led England’s contribution to the Global Burden of Disease project, been Chairman of the WHO European Burden of Disease Network and is an Honorary Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Manchester and University of Exeter.
Does Vaping Cause Lung Disease?
On the Public Health England (PHE) blog(1), Professor Newton is quick to reassure smokers, vapers, and their families that the stories of lung disease coming from the United States were caused by a “bad batch of illicit cannabis products”, going on to confirm “US authorities have since identified vitamin E acetate added to cannabis products as a ‘primary cause’ of the outbreak.”
PHE provided comprehensive details and guidance at the time of the outbreak(2).
Does Vaping Cause Heart Disease?
Many newspapers report a link between vaping and heart disease due to a controversial American study that drew much criticism and was finally retracted(3).
Professor Newton commented: “A better understanding of the effect of e-cigarettes on the heart is beginning to emerge. A randomised control trial that measured the vascular effects of smokers switching to vaping was published in December with encouraging results. Those who switched to e-cigarettes completely experienced the largest improvement in their vascular health, getting close to the healthy ‘control’.”
How Harmful Is Vaping?
The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the evidence indicates that vaping is “far less harmful” than cigarette smoking(4).
The Professor pointed out that PHE has declared, “While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals which are present pose limited danger.”
This has led to PHE saying vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking – and probably safer(5).
How Harmful Is Nicotine?
Professor Newton says: “Four out of 10 smokers and ex-smokers wrongly think nicotine causes most of the smoking-related cancers when evidence shows nicotine actually carries minimal risk of harm to health. Although nicotine is the reason people become addicted to smoking, it is the thousands of other chemicals contained in cigarette smoke that cause almost all of the harm.”
Is There A Second-hand Risk To Vaping?
“Our 2018 report found there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders and our 2022 report will review the evidence again,” states PHE’s expert.
Is There A Problem With Vaping Causing Teens To Smoke?
No, according to Professor Newton, who said: “Our latest report found no evidence to support the concern that e-cigarettes are increasing youth smoking.”
He went on to emphasise that smoking rates among young people in the UK continue to decline.
Does Vaping Help Smokers To Quit Using Cigarettes?
Professor Newton points to a major UK clinical trial(6), which found that not only did switching to electronic cigarettes work but it “was twice as effective at helping smokers to quit compared with the … nicotine replacement therapy.”
Are Electronic Cigarettes Regulated?
The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations controls minimum standards of quality and safety, packaging and labelling requirements, the contents of e-liquid and the size of bottles and atomisers. The Act is currently being reviewed by Parliament as we are now able to change the law following Brexit.
PHE’s Martin Dockrell has also written extensively about vaping – check out his article where he clears up some of the myths about e-cigarettes(7).
- Public Health England’s official blog – https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/
- Vaping and lung disease in the US: PHE’s advice – https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2019/10/29/vaping-and-lung-disease-in-the-us-phes-advice/
- Retraction to: Electronic Cigarette Use and Myocardial Infarction Among Adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health – https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.119.014519
- Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes – https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24952/public-health-consequences-of-e-cigarettes
- E-cigarettes: an evidence update A report commissioned by Public Health England – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/733022/Ecigarettes_an_evidence_update_A_report_commissioned_by_Public_Health_England_FINAL.pdf
- A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy – https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1808779
- Clearing up some myths around e-cigarettes by Martin Dockrell – https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/20/clearing-up-some-myths-around-e-cigarettes/