Vaping News

Dr Sharon Cox Offers Her Perspective

Dr Sharon Cox, an undisputed expert on the benefits of vaping for marginalised communities, spoke about the Government’s vape ban on the BBC World Service

Share on:
Dr Sharon Cox is an undisputed expert on the benefits of vaping for marginalised communities. She has conducted many studies that have identified how best to use vaping technology to assist people experiencing homelessness or other problems to quit smoking. Dr Cox spoke to Newshour on the BBC World Service about the Government’s vape ban and related proposals.

The Principle Research Fellow at UCL’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group was asked about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement. She said: “What has been announced is welcome in terms of the suite of measures. I think there are other things that potentially could have been done to curb vaping – such as making them less convenient for people to buy, than having restrictions on price and restrictions on packaging.

“The role now is to make sure the adult smokers who are using e-cigarettes to either stay quit or try to quit, we make sure that this doesn’t have any unintended consequences.”

But the issue with disposable vapes is that you need to be 18 to buy them, so she was asked where she thought the problem lies.

Dr Sharon Cox replied: “I think that’s an issue where they’re starting to be sold. We have, in the UK, some really good specialist vape stores that are reputable sellers, that we know ask for ID, and are really good at that. I think what’s happened with disposables is that they’ve gone into a massive number of stores and therefore the proportion of people who are not doing those checks has gone up.”

The interviewer expressed her surprise that retail licencing scheme wasn’t in place in order to sell vaping products in the UK. Dr Cox was asked if that surprised her.

I think that these products do need more restrictions over where they’re sold and how they’re sold, and then who they’re sold to,” she said. “And that was something that we had recommended from our group at UCL, as well as things such as restrictions on packaging and maybe an increase in tax. So there’s many things that you could do.”

The interview recapped that the Government plan to ban disposable vapes, restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging, and change how vapes are displayed in store, but was interested to know more about what Dr Cox saw as the unintended consequences of adults not using vapes when they could instead of smoking.

So, we’re in a really bad situation at the moment in the UK where at least half of people who smoke think that vaping is equally as harmful as smoking or even more harmful than smoking. Vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking, and it’s almost twice as effective as other ways to quit smoking.

“Now, if people have these misperceptions, they might think ‘Well, they’re starting to ban these products, I see all these bad headlines about these products, should I bother trying one or are they banning them because they’re not really good for me?’

“So, we’ve got to make sure that the messaging around this is youth vaping and the environmental issue – and not because this is a safety issue.”

But what about the harm posed by vaping?

Sharon replied: “Nicotine is not the harmful substance; it is a dependence forming substance. Now when you light a cigarette it is uniquely dangerous. Yes, you inhale nicotine, but you also inhale thousands of toxicants of which over 70 are known carcinogens.

“Vaping carries a fraction of the risk: for a start there’s no combustion, but you’re inhaling something into your lungs so the message from public health agencies is, and from academics has always been clear, if you’re a smoker then one of the single best things you can do is quit smoking, and vaping can help. But if you’re a never smoker, we don’t want you to start using these products.”

And the long-term effects of vaping?

It is true that we don’t have that long-term epidemiological evidence, but what we do have is that vaping has been around for 10-15 years now, is short-term health outcome data of 2-5 years, looking at people who exclusively vape e-cigarettes, people who exclusively smoke, and people who exclusively use nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gums.

“We see that the biomarkers, which are indicators of illness and cancers, among the people who vape is equal to people who are using other forms of nicotine replacement therapies – and far, far, far lower than those people who are smoking.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

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.

Join the discussion

Vaping News

Trading Standards Welcomes Clarity

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute says it welcomes the “clarity and action from government to tackle youth vaping” with the plan to ban disposable vapes and related announcements

Vaping News

UKVIA Writes To Sunak

The UKVIA has sent a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to 'express profound dismay and disappointment' that the government has decided to proceed with a ban on disposable vapes

Vaping News

FOI Shows Disposables Ban Folly

389 Freedom of Information requests made by leading online retailer Vape Club and one by the BBC demonstrate the extent to which a ban on disposable vapes is a complete act of folly

Vaping News

ASH UK’s Coordinated Comment

Action on Smoking and Health has coordinated a series of responses to the Governments proposals to include interested parties