An independent evidence review by Public Health England has reinforced their 2015 findings that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
Despite this figure being widely reported, over half of the smoking population are still undecided about the safety of e-cigarettes or erroneously believe that they are as harmful as combustible cigarettes.
The review found that e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits each year and that e-cigarette use is associated with improved quit rates and an accelerated drop in smoking rates.
The evidence review follows the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on e-cigarettes which concluded that ‘e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.’
Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE said:
“Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone.
“It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”
Professor Ann McNeill, lead author and Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, said:
“People smoke for the nicotine, but contrary to what the vast majority believe, nicotine causes little if any of the harm. The toxic smoke is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of all the tobacco-related disease and death. There are now a greater variety of alternative ways of getting nicotine than ever before, including nicotine gum, nasal spray, lozenges and e-cigarettes”.
Professor Linda Bauld, author and Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling and Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention, Cancer Research UK said:
“Concern has been expressed that e-cigarette use will lead young people into smoking. But in the UK, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate. We need to keep closely monitoring these trends, but so far the data suggest that e-cigarettes are not acting as a route into regular smoking amongst young people.”