CRUK Updates Its Position

Posted 13th May 2021 by Dave Cross
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has updated its position on vaping by publishing a “what we know and what we don’t” blog post. Ultimately, CRUK says the evidence has come a long way and supports its position to recommend electronic cigarettes to all smokers considering switching in order to reduce their harm exposure.

It’s been a decade since e-cigarettes first gained popularity in the UK. Since then, the types of devices available and the number of people using them has risen sharply. And as the popularity levels of e-cigarettes grew, so did the debate around them,” CRUK says (1).

It quotes Professor Linda Bauld saying that the growth in knowledge has led to a more “sophisticated” discussion about vaping and tobacco harm reduction in the United Kingdom – something that can’t be claimed for a number of other countries.

CRUK says that 12,000 people per month ask Google if vaping is safe. It warns that “there are a lot of mixed messages” about e-cigs, pointing to the concerning articles making the false claim that vaping is as bad if not worse than smoking.

Some studies have shown harmful effects of e-cigarette vapour. However, these are usually conducted on animals or cells in the lab, rather than in people. And the concentrations of e-cigarette vapour used are often much higher than people would be exposed to in real life. Whilst these studies are useful to explore the potential effects of e-cigarettes, they shouldn’t be used to estimate real-world impact in humans.”

CRUK points to the annual reviews conducted by Public Health England and reports by the Royal College of Physicians as evidence that vaping remains far less harmful than smoking.

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Huge amounts of research [shows] that tobacco is extremely harmful. Which is why experts can be confident that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco. This is broadly agreed by researchers and public health bodies.”

The charity states that there is “growing evidence” that, despite what some would claim, vaping works as a smoking cessation tool. This won’t come as news to the 60,000 members of the Planet of the Vapes forum who all used vaping to quit tobacco use.

Also, CRUK pours cold water on the so-called “gateway effect”, where those ideologically opposed to harm reduction attempt to say e-cig use leads to smoking. It stated: “there’s no strong evidence for a gateway effect in the UK. Although experimentation with e-cigarettes among young people has increased in recent years, regular vaping in young people in the UK remains very low. In a representative survey of 11 to 18 year-olds in Great Britain in 2020, out of 1,926 never smokers, not a single person reported vaping daily.”

It goes on to say that those young people who progress on to smoking probably would have done it anyway, and that there’s no evidence to say non-smoking teens are vaping regularly.

CRUK says there’s nothing to say that dual use of e-cigs and tobacco is worse than just smoking, but adds that, “to get the health benefits, people need to switch completely from smoking to vaping.”

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References:

  1. E-cigarettes: what we know and what we don’t - https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2021/04/26/e-cigarettes-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont/


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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