Vape Myths Addressed by Experts
Three leading UK tobacco harm reduction experts have spoken out about common vape-related myths and set out the truth regarding electronic cigarettes in the latest Nursing Times. John Waldron, a policy manager at Action on Smoking and Health, Dr Debbie Robson, a senior lecturer in tobacco harm reduction at the National Addiction Centre, and Professor Ann McNeill, and expert at King’s College London’s Department of Addictions have joined together to improve nurses’ understanding.
How popular is vaping?
It is “the most popular aid used to quit smoking in England”, they say, with over 4.3 million adults now using electronic cigarettes – and “the majority…are ex-smokers”.
Sounds like vaping works
Absolutely. But, despite this, there exists a belief in parts of the NHS that ecigs don’t work as a quit aid.
Waldron, Robson, and McNeill point out that the ongoing reviews being conducted find “e-cigarettes are a more effective quitting aid for smokers than nicotine patches or gum”.
But isn’t it as risky as smoking?
They point to a major analysis of current evidence conducted by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. Not only was the work comprehensive in its scope but it was also truly independent from undue influence.
It found: “vaping poses only a small fraction of the health risks of smoking and that smokers should be encouraged to use vaping products for stopping smoking”.
Is there a teen epidemic of ecig use?
“E-cigarette use among 11–17-year-olds who have never smoked remains low, with only 1.7% of never smokers vaping at least monthly. While we are seeing an increase in vaping among children and young adults, the vast majority are young people who’ve already tried smoking,” they state.
Does that mean there’s nothing to get concerned about?
Not quite, they argue. They say that action is probably needed for disposable ecig products, and that funding is needed to crack down on shop owners who break the law by selling illegal products or to children.
Are ecigs important for adult smokers?
Yes, they say.
They point out to nurses that the Smoking Toolkit Study shows how vaping is helping to shift smokers away from tobacco and that local authority stop smoking services are increasingly helping smokers to switch to ecigs – although that figure still only stands at 52%.
Better news comes from mental health inpatient units, where 79% of them now offer e-cigarettes as a quit aid.
They say nurses need to be aware of the myths surrounding vaping and point them to evidence. You can access this information too, and it is listed below.
Where can I find further facts about vaping?
- ASH policy brief – https://ash.org.uk/uploads/ASH-Policy-brief-on-vaping-February-2023-Final.pdf?v=1676063818 – “E-cigarettes are proven to be a more effective quitting aid for smokers than nicotine patches or gum. Yet over a quarter of smokers have never tried vaping, and there remain widespread misperceptions that vaping is more than, or equally harmful as, smoking.”
- uk evidence update – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nicotine-vaping-in-england-2022-evidence-update – “in the short and medium term, vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking”
- Cochrane Review – https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub7/full – “There was high certainty that quit rates were higher in people randomised to nicotine EC than in those randomized to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)”