Dr Tamara Djuretic, the Joint Director of Public Health at Barnet Council, and Councillor Alison Moore, the Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board at the Council, issued a joint statement, saying: “We support the use of nicotine vapes that meet UK regulatory standards as an aid for adults to stop smoking. For a smoker, smoking tobacco is clinically proven to be far more harmful than switching to vaping. The inaccurate reporting about adult vaping in the media is a cause for concern as it is likely turning smokers away from an aid to quitting that works, and so will substantially improve their health outcomes in the long term.
"We recognise that vaping is not risk-free, so if you don’t smoke already, we urge you not to vape. The promotion of e-cigarettes to children is a serious issue that needs stricter regulation, to reduce their affordability, appeal and accessibility to children and young people. But, we must at the same time ensure adult smokers are not discouraged from using vaping to help them quit smoking.”
The Council has issued a statement of vaping vs smoking facts:
- Although not risk-free, vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco.
- Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the UK. It kills almost 75,000 people every year in England alone.
- Smoking is the leading cause of health inequalities and is a direct cause of poverty.
- Passive smoking is a risk factor for poor health in mothers and babies, with outcomes including miscarriage, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome. Passive smoking is also a significant cause of death and disability in children.
- In 2023, more than a quarter of adult smokers have never tried vaping to help them quit smoking, even though it is one of the most effective quitting aids. A likely reason for this is the negative and inaccurate media attention that adult vaping receives.
- Vaping is not a gateway into smoking. If vaping were a gateway into smoking, as vaping increases, we would start to see smoking rates increase. Instead, while e-cigarette use grew rapidly in England between 2010-2021, smoking rates among children continued to fall.
The Council says that Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, put the case very succinctly when he 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.”
Barnet Council says that smoking costs it an estimated £105.3M every year. This breaks down as:
- Healthcare: £10.8M
- Productivity loss: £88.1M
- Social care: £4.6M
- Fires: £1.8M
The Council says that according to 2021 data, 10.5% of adults smoke in Barnet, which is about 31,000 people.
It says smokers are 3 times more likely to quit with professional help and points them to its website for further support: www.barnet.gov.uk/stopsmoking