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Vaping Has “Substantial Potential”

The UK Parliament Health and Social Care Committee has been told that vaping has ‘substantial potential’ to solve the problem of the harms caused by smoking by Professor Peter Hajek

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The UK Parliament Health and Social Care Committee has been told that vaping has ‘substantial potential’ to solve the problem of the harms caused by smoking by Professor Peter Hajek. The Professor at Queen Mary University London (QMUL) told the MPs that “Alternative products have substantial potential to solve the [smoking] problem for us”.

QMUL say: “In his evidence to the Committee’s enquiry into the prevention of harms and ill health caused by smoking, alcohol, drugs, and gambling, Professor Hajek observed that the prevalence of smoking in the UK is declining, particularly in younger people. He added that there is no evidence that vaping is a gateway into smoking, but some evidence that it is a gateway out of smoking.

“He noted that countries where vaping had been banned showed a slower decline in smoking rates compared to countries such as the UK and the USA where vaping was permitted. Even Australia’s aggressive pricing of cigarettes had not achieved the decline in smoking evident in the UK.

“Pointing out that vaping is in fact much less addictive than smoking, he highlighted the ‘horrific misinformation’ about health risks from vaping, which has prevented many people from making the switch. Communicating the enormous difference in risk between smoking and vaping as a way to encourage people to choose activities safer than smoking was a priority, he added.

“In response to the committee’s questions, Professor Hajek said that while research shows that smoking is more attractive to the socioeconomically deprived, adoption of vaping could also make a substantial difference for the health of this population. He added that a suggested ban on vape flavours, which are partly responsible for the success of vapes and concomitant decline in smoking, would be against the interests of public health.”

In addition to Professor Peter Hajek, the parliamentarians also heard from:

  • Andy Tighe, Director of Strategy and Policy, The British Beer and Pub Association
  • Karen Tyrell, Chief Executive, Drinkaware
  • Sandra Ionno Butcher, Chief Executive, The National Organisation for FASD
  • Matt Lambert, Chief Executive, The Portman Group
  • Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive, Action Against Smoking
  • Asma Khalil, Vice President for Academia and Strategy, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)

Hazel Cheeseman told the committee: “The ‘nanny state’ is often wheeled out in order to counter a regulation about protecting the public’s health. We are not talking about a product that is a normal consumer product. This is a uniquely lethal product, which is addictive. From Professor Hajek’s research, we can see that when people have their first cigarette, they are very likely to go on to become regular smokers. The free choice is, in effect, that first cigarette. There isn’t a free adult choice to smoke or not to smoke if you have become addicted.”

On vaping, she said: “There is a big risk in the level of misunderstanding in the population around the relative harms of vaping for that population of young people. I have had data shared with me from focus groups with young people who do not understand that vaping is much less harmful than smoking. As a consequence, the risk of them moving between the behaviour of vaping and the much more harmful behaviour of smoking is quite high.”

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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