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Stoptober Ecig Support Causes Disagreement

The decision to place vaping into the Quit message mix causes a stir among experts.

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Last week, we broke the news that the 2017 Stoptober campaign will feature television adverts suggesting vaping as a quit method – for the very first time. It has provoked consternation in certain circles and calls for e-cigarette users to be told there is “little evidence of benefits or harms”.

The documented success of vaping has helped to break previous quit smoking record. A University College London report details that 20% of those who attempt to quit managed to succeed, in the first half of this year. Previous averages hung around the 15% mark.

“Keep it up for twenty-eight days and you are five times more likely to quit for good.”

Experts noted that the increase in successfully quitting smoking was due to poorer sections of society becoming engaged with the electronic alternative. The Guardian wrote: “In many ways, they mimic the experience of smoking a cigarette and are a far more attractive proposition for many people than putting on a nicotine patch.”

“Vaping IS better for you than smoking cigarettes… and it’s right the government has finally admitted it.”

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, wrote in The Sun: “Vaping is better for you than smoking cigarettes, and it’s right the government has finally admitted it. It’s not completely harmless but it doesn’t cause serious diseases like cancer – which tobacco does.”

“Some studies have found traces of toxic chemicals in second-hand vapour, but at such low levels that they’re not likely to be harmful to those around you. There have also been concerns, particularly in America, that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway for kids to smoke tobacco. But we’re simply not seeing this in the U.K.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is an organisation that decides which medical treatments the NHS should fund. NICE were quick to pour cold water on the notion that vaping works for smokers who have struggled to quit using traditional methods: “The draft guideline does not list e-cigarettes as recommended aids to stop smoking however it does say that advice should be offered on their use.

“There is currently little evidence on their long term benefits or harms.”

“It acknowledges that, although some people have found e-cigarettes helpful to quit smoking and that PHE and the Royal College of Physicians have stated that they are significantly less harmful than tobacco, there is currently little evidence on their long term benefits or harms.”

It is shameful that this powerful body should choose to ignore the massive amount of evidence, being generated in Britain, which supports the vaping success story.

The danger is still all too real, as highlighted by England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Gina Radford: “The battle against smoking is far from over – it is still the country’s biggest killer, causing 79,000 deaths a year. And for every death, another 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease. Far too many people are still dying as a result of smoking but there has never been a better time to quit – the culture has changed, strong legislation is in place and effective support is available.”

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, deputy director of health and wellbeing with PHE North West, doesn’t recognise the fears held by NICE: “E-cigarettes are now the most popular way to quit smoking and last year more than half the people taking part in Stoptober used e-cigarettes to quit. If you have tried to give up before but not succeeded then e-cigarettes may be an option to consider as they carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes.”

Dr Tom Smith, the Lancashire Telegraph’s health expert, agreed with Wagstaff’s stance: “I would support anything that reduces cigarette consumption and e-cigs have been shown to be effective in doing this.”

The paper quotes County Councillor Vivien Taylor, responsible for health and wellbeing, as also siding with common sense instead of NICE’s ignorance: "Smoking kills and is one of the biggest preventable causes of ill health in Lancashire. Evidence suggests that electronic cigarettes are significantly less harmful for smokers than tobacco and can offer people an alternative way to quit."

The story continues in Stoke, where the Sentinel spoke to a number of ex-smokers. Paige Finney used vaping to quit smoking after her father and mother found success. Angela Larkin may have relapsed back to cigarettes but is now keen to give vaping another go.

Cloudstix’ Darren Sharples is quoted as saying: “We have had many customers who have come in to begin with and said, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever quit smoking’. But then they do quit and they often tell us about the health benefits they go on to experience, such as waking up in the morning without a smoker’s cough.”

At least NICE acknowledge there is evidence out there: “Be aware that Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians have stated that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco".

The move to further embrace and promote vaping places our near neighbours in an awkward position. Ireland has taken an increasingly more prohibitionist stance, and the Irish Examiner states that the Public Health England report, the first to use the 95% safer figure, “was heavily criticised”.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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