Public Health England (PHE) famously released a study that says vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking tobacco. And now, more experts are getting behind the science of harm reduction and vaping on the heels of PHE’s new video detailing an experiment that shows the alarming amount of black tar accumulating in heavy smokers’ lungs versus trace amounts in vapers’ lungs.
John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, told The Guardian that “vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk,” of smoking analog tobacco cigarettes. He maintains that “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 safety.”
PHE’s video shows black tar collected in a bell jar, however the same nicotine intake through vaping “releases only a trace of residue,” reports the Guardian. The video is part of a new campaign launching to show smokers in the UK that vaping isn’t as harmful as some reports and baseless claims have shown. Newton says that it’s important to reassure smokers that making the switch to vaping is less harmful and “is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk.”
While the goal of PHE is health improvement on a scientific level, the passion and emotion that the researchers and other scientists who weighed in to The Guardian’s article are clear. PHE’s Head of the Tobacco Control Programme at PHE, Martin Dockrell,” told The Guardian that he likes to think the scientists are detached emotionally, “but in fact the scientists involved in this area on both sides are deeply passionate about it.” He said that some studies about the risks of chemicals in e-cigarettes are misleading and contradictory. “People don’t know who to believe and they believe the thing that suits them best.”
One such study is that vaping causes “popcorn lung,” caused by diacetyl. However, that chemical is also found in analog cigarettes at 100 times higher. Another huge media story is that vaping is a gateway to smoking in teens. However, PHE said that while vaping did rise in in England up to the year 2015, “the numbers have flattened off since.” Dockrell notes that there are no studies that show vaping increases tobacco use among young people in the UK.
PHE’s smoking cessation programme data numbers showed that 65 to 68 percent of those who took up vaping and nicotine replacement therapists succeeded in quitting analogs, a sign of encouragement, Newton said. “We want to encourage more smokers to try and quit completely with the help of an e-cigarette, or by using other nicotine replacement such as patches or gum, as this will significantly improve their chances of success. If you’re trying to stop smoking, our free online personal quit plan will help you find the support that’s right for you.”
Finally, Lion Shahab of University College, London, who is in PHE’s video, told The Guardian that “the false belief that vaping is as harmful as smoking could be preventing thousands of smokers from switching to e-cigarettes to help them quit.” He hopes that the experiment in the video will help people see damage caused by smoking and that can be avoided by making the switch to e-cigarettes. “Research we and others have conducted shows that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and that using e-cigarettes on a long-term basis is relatively safe, similar to using licensed nicotine products, like nicotine patches or gum. Using e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement such as patches or gum will boost your chances of quitting successfully.”