British health experts are as ‘certain as EVER’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes – despite spate of 34 deaths in the US linked to e-cigs
- Professor John Newton, a director at Public Health England, encouraged vaping
- Claims it’s 95% less harmful than cigarettes and advised smokers to make switch
- Comes despite 1,604 hospitalised and 34 dying to illnesses linked to the devices
British health bosses say they are ‘as certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking, despite a spate of e-cigarette-related deaths in the US.
Figures show 1,604 Americans have been hospitalised across 49 states with mystery lung diseases linked to the devices, and at least 34 have died.
Officials have been scrambling to identify what exactly is making people ill since the first case was reported back in March.
But they’ve yet to definitively put their finger on what is triggering the illnesses and deaths.
Despite the uncertainty, Public Health England’s Professor John Newton said he was adamant that e-cigarettes were ‘far less harmful than smoking’.
British health bosses say they are ‘as certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking despite 34 Americans dying to mystery lung diseases linked to the devices
A total of 34 deaths from vaping-related illness have been reported in 24 US states (red) in the US. Every state but Alaska has confirmed at least one of the 1,604 cases of lung damage
PHE claims vaping is 95 per cent better than smoking and still encourages traditional smokers to make the switch.
It says vape contains fewer harmful chemicals than standard cigarettes, which burn tobacco and produce tar. E-cigarettes allow users to inhale nicotine in vapour rather than breathing in smoke.
Counterfeit or bootleg e-cigarettes that officials believe have been tinkered with to contain THC have become the prime suspects behind the US deaths.
But Professor Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, reiterated it had not changed its advice on nicotine containing e-cigarettes.
‘Smokers should consider switching completely and vapers should stop smoking,’ he told The Sun.
‘We are as certain as ever that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, which kills almost 220 people in England every day.
‘Our concern is that the responses we have seen to the problem in the US and in other countries may increase the already widespread misunderstanding about the relative safety of nicotine e-cigarettes, deterring smokers from switching and risk driving vapers who have switched back to smoking.’
There were just 700,00 vapers in 2012 – a year after the electronic devices burst onto the scene as a ‘healthier’ alternative to cigarettes
‘SMOKING MUST BE STAMPED OUT BY 2030’
The UK Government will aim to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to address preventable ill health.
Its green paper, released in July, said more needs to be done to improve public health.
The paper read: ‘Thanks to our concerted efforts on smoking, we now have one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe.
‘Yet, for the 14 percent of adults who still smoke, it’s the main risk to health.
Smokers are disproportionately located in areas of high deprivation. In Blackpool, one in four pregnant women smoke. In Westminster, it’s one in 50.’
The paper proposed offering stop-smoking help to all cigarette users who are admitted to NHS hospitals.
It said it wants to reduce the smoking rate to 12 per cent by 2022 and to zero by 2030.
‘This includes an ultimatum for industry to make smoked tobacco obsolete by 2030,’ the paper added, ‘with smokers quitting or moving to reduced risk products like e-cigarettes.’
PHE said similar products were being sold on UK streets and warned users against buying unregulated devices.
The mystery US illnesses have been dubbed EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.
In each case, patients have reported shortness of breath, night sweats and low oxygen levels which almost always leads to feeling sick to their stomachs and vomiting.
Nearly half of the confirmed patients wound up in the ICU, and more than a fifth had to be put on ventilators to breathe for them.
Several states, including New York, Oregon and Michigan, Washington, Utah, Montana and Rhode Island have attempted to ban flavored e-cigarettes in the wake of the epidemic. Massachusetts even put a temporary ban on the sale of all vapes.
Professor Newton’s comments come after data revealed a record number of Britons were now hooked on the electronic devices.
Figures show an estimated seven per cent of people in the UK regularly vape – up from 6.2 per cent in 2018.
This means 45 people took up the habit every hour in 2019, bringing the number of vapers from 3.2million to 3.6million in 12 months.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) polled more than 12,000 people to come to the conclusion.
The majority of vapers were ex-smokers (54 per cent), a third of whom claimed their main reason for using them was to help them quit cigarettes.
One in five said they took up the habit to prevent a relapse back to smoking while 13 per cent said it was a way to save money.
Fourteen per cent said they started smoking e-cigarettes because they simply enjoyed it.