ASH Speaks

Posted 1st August 2019 by Dave Cross
Action on Smoking and Health’s (ASH) Deborah Arnott has spoken about being “underwhelmed” by the first electronic cigarette launched in the UK, but the organisation reaffirms its belief that vaping now offers a route out of smoking. The “SuperSmoker” was launched in 2008 but failed to resonate with smokers. ASH now contend “e-cigarettes help smokers to quit”.

The SuperSmoker was hailed as a “scientific breakthrough for much safer smoking” at the launch event in London. It was to be sold in Rank Gaming Casinos and Bingo Halls, but failed to hit the spot with cigarette smokers.

They said, “This much safer alternative also reduces the nicotine content (yet still provides the smoker with the taste and aroma of cigarettes), contains no herbal ingredients, produces smoke that contains no toxic substances for the smokers and their environment. It is also much cheaper than smoking the customary unhealthy cigarettes and meets smoker's physical and psychological needs. It is an alternative where traditional cigarette smoking is now banned.”

Presenters claimed the safer aspects of the new device, compared to smoking, “could therefore have a major and positive effect on public health worldwide”. Arnott was not convinced.

The passing of time has witnessed consumer-driven developments in vape products – and a resulting boom in use. This has spurred ASH and Deborah Arnott to reappraise their initial positions.

ASH writes: “The use of e-cigarettes by smokers who want to quit smoking increases their chance of success. An analysis of the use of e-cigarettes by smokers in England over ten years found that smokers who used them as part of their attempts to quit smoking were more likely to be successful than those who did not use them.”

“Data from local stop smoking services in England also show the value of using e-cigarettes as well as professional support and licensed stop smoking medicines. In 2017/18, the smokers who achieved the highest quit rate (74%) were those who used e-cigarettes.”

“E-cigarette users can sometimes generate large clouds of vapour which look like cigarette smoke and can raise concerns about the impact on air quality. Yet, to date, there is no evidence of harm to health from ‘second hand vaping’ and the risks are likely to be very low. The risk to users of inhaling e-cigarette vapour is low and the risk to those who breathe their exhaled vapour is even lower due to only exhaled aerosol being emitted.”

“The 2018 Public Health England review concluded that the low level of toxins found in e-cigarette aerosol were unlikely to have to lead to any health implications. Further, nicotine levels in second hand vapour were at non-detectable levels compared to secondhand smoke.”

Earlier this year, an ASH study stated that while some young people, particularly those who have tried smoking, experiment with e-cigarettes, regular use remains low.

Resources:

  • SuperSmoker launch – [link]
  • ASH Electronic cigarettes Briefing – [link]
  • Use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain, 2019 – [link]
 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker