An independent study finds that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than tobacco and could be “game-changer” for getting people to quit smoking.
The study, commissioned by Public Health England, says that while e-cigarettes may not be totally safe, they contain almost none of the chemicals in cigarettes associated with serious diseases like lung cancer and emphysema.
The report adds that there is a substantial body of high-quality evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective tool for getting smokers to kick their habit. The devices, which were only invented in 2007, already have 2.6 million adult users in England alone.
Contrary to a study released on Tuesday by the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, the report found no association between e-cigarette use among young people and a rise in teen smoking.
“Fears that e-cigarettes have made smoking seem normal again, or even led to people taking up tobacco smoking, are not so far being realized based on the evidence assessed by this important independent review,” Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s expert in cancer prevention told the BBC.
The report comes hot on the heels of a study from anti-tobacco campaign group Action on Smoking and Health that found no link between the rise in teens using e-cigarettes and young people transferring to regular cigarettes.
As lawmakers and regulators move to restrict vaping in public spaces, Public Health England rebutted claims that e-cigarette vapor poses a risk to bystanders, saying the vapor contains negligible amounts of nicotine. North Dakota, New Jersey and Utah all have restrictions on e-cigarettes. Florence County in Wisconsin has gone so far as to ban vaping in public places.
“If I was running a stop-smoking service, I would encourage people who are interested in trying e-cigarettes to have a go,” said Professor McNeill, one of the study’s authors. “I would also be recommending all the other evidence-based medications that people can use.”
One of the report’s recommendations was to treat e-cigarettes differently from regular cigarettes and not ban them in public spaces. But one of the key challenges the report identifies are widespread misperceptions about the safety of e-cigarettes. Almost half of British people are unaware that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco products.