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Vaping and THR

Linda Bauld discusses the research supporting vaping, and Clive Bates updates his list of the good things on tobacco harm reduction that have come from England

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Professor Linda Bauld, the CRUK/BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention, recently spoke about vape research and why there’s little agreement between the U.K. and the USA. Clive Bates has updated his list with Linda's comments as part of the good things on tobacco harm reduction - and POTV News makes the cut.

There was once a point in time when opponents of vaping and tobacco harm reduction would frequently decry that there wasn’t enough known about “it”. Linda highlights that this is no longer the case: “Thousands of research papers have been published about these devices over the past decade. But we do not seem to be much closer to a global consensus on their risks or benefits, and arguably the debate is becoming more entrenched.”

She says that the opposition to vaping being used as a tobacco harm reduction tool has coalesced around a single point of opposition: “the consequences of e-cigarette use by young people, and the extent that youth vaping will lead to smoking.”

Highlighting that scientists on both sides of the Atlantic looked at the same evidence in 2018, they managed to come to different conclusions. While American institutions claimed to find an epidemic and links to a gateway effect, Public Health England clearly stated: “E-cigarettes are attracting very few young people who have never smoked into regular use, and e-cigarettes do not appear to be undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking in the UK among young people.”

Linda says that one explanation could be down to how the measurements are made – with the US focusing on “ever used” and the UK measuring “regular use”. She didn’t expand or speculate on the political reasons that might underpin the differing approaches.

She concluded: “We should not be forced to choose between protecting children and supporting the one in two adult smokers who will suffer and die prematurely from a smoking-related disease if they continue to smoke. The challenge in 2019 and beyond will be to ensure the right balance is struck.”

To that end, Clive Bates has updated the list of reliable sources of information he maintains on his Counterfactual blog. The list is split into a number of sections, and is being reproduced here (with his permission) for POTV readers to use as references when discussing vaping with others:

  1. Realistic science
  2. Practical professional guidance and public communications
  3. Reasonable public health consensus statements and policy positions
  4. Useful data
  5. Engaged consumers
  6. Groundbreaking conferences
  7. Forthright commentators

Realistic science

Significant scientific assessments

Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know

“Although it is not possible to precisely quantify the long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes, the available data suggest that they are unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products, and may well be substantially lower than this figure“. (Section 5.5 page 87)

Collaborative research approach

Practical professional guidance and public communications

Pro-harm reduction national policy statement

On quitting smoking for professionals

Public-facing communications

  • New Dec 2018: National Health Service Smokefree campaign – information on e-cigarettes – linked to…
  • New Dec 2018: PHE public information video (below) with basics on why vaping is so much safer than smoking – and related BBC coverage.

On smoke-free policy

These reflect the view that vaping policy should be a matter for the owner or manager of the premises, not subject to a blanket legal ban.

On e-cigarette advertising

These very sensible industry codes govern the advertising that is not banned by the wholly disproportionate EU Tobacco Products Directive Article 20(5) as it applies in the UK.

Reasonable public health consensus statements and positions

Cabinet Secretary (Head of UK civil service)

Blog by Sir Jeremy Heywood: How the Nudge unit threw light on lighting up 2015

Consensus statement

2016 statement by Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health, Association of Directors of Public Health, British Lung Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Faculty of Public Health, Fresh North East, Healthier Futures, Public Health Action (PHA), Royal College of Physicians, Royal Society for Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, UK Health Forum

Individual organisations and people

UK Parliamentary inquiry – December 2017

The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology inquiry in to e-cigarettes took evidence in December 2017. See:

Some highlights from the submitted evidence.

Useful data

Engaged consumers

Ground-breaking conferences

Forthright commentators

Engaged trade associations

Planet of the Vapes extends its gratitude to Clive Bates.

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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