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ASH Issues Myths Briefing

Action on Smoking and Health has issued a briefing dedicated to putting the evidence in context and combatting the common myths surrounding vapes and vaping

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Action on Smoking and Health has issued a briefing dedicated to putting the evidence in context and combatting the common myths surrounding vapes and vaping. The briefing aims to act as an aid to stop myths being repeated until they are accepted as conventional wisdom and to prevent the overstating of evidence.

ASH says the situation is neatly summed up by Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty, who has said: “The key points about vaping (e-cigarettes) can be easily summarised. If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.”

ASH says that unfortunately people aren’t listening and “fewer than one in ten smokers understand this”, moreover “media coverage often fails to make this clear”.

The charity is concerned that the messages being heard overstate the risk from vaping and discourages adult smokers from switching – but also warns that such messages aren’t strong enough to deter young people from taking up vaping. It believes this is because young people are “more likely to engage in risky behaviour than adults, and are more susceptible to peer pressure.”

Why it is important to represent ecig evidence accurately?

ASH says:

  • Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death.
  • High quality randomised controlled trials have found nicotine containing e- cigarettes to be an effective aid to quit smoking.
  • Their use has been endorsed by NICE guidance, the British Thoracic Society, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Royal College of Midwives, amongst others.
  • Smokers who use an e-cigarette in a quit attempt are more likely to succeed in that attempt.
  • E-cigarettes have helped in the region of 30,000 to 50,000 additional smokers to successfully quit each year in England since 2013.
  • One in four smokers have never tried vaping, equivalent to 1.8 million smokers, who could potentially benefit from trying vaping to help them quit.

ASH says: “The provision of accurate information about vaping is vital, as currently 43% of smokers who have not tried vaping, think vaping is as or more harmful than smoking, up from 27% in 2019.”

The charity lists common misconceptions as:

  • Vaping nicotine is more harmful than smoking tobacco.
  • Vaping is more addictive than smoking.
  • Disposable vapes deliver as much nicotine as 50 cigarettes.
  • Vaping is a proven gateway into smoking.
  • Nicotine damages brain development in young people.
  • The main reason children vape is because they like the flavours.

ASH names an article in The Sun and one on Sky News as examples of evidence being conveyed wrongly.

The Sun claimed “vaping while pregnant is no safer than smoking” while Sky suggested “Primary school age children are ending up in hospital due to excessive vaping”.

ASH’s debunking of myths can be found HERE.

Photo Credit:

  • Paper cuttings image courtesy of ASH UK

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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