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homeTuesday 18th September 2018

Embracing vaping ‘irresponsible’

Katie Coyne30/08/2018 - 14:00

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Vaping risks unknown
Vaping risks unknown

CIEH has urged for ‘caution’ over a rush to embrace vaping as safe following the publication of a government report recommending its use as a stop-smoking aid.

 The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report said e-cigarettes were being overlooked by the NHS as a stop smoking tool and that they are safer than conventional cigarettes.

 The committee also found evidence that e-cigarettes were not a significant ‘gateway’ including for young smokers.

It has recommended that the government allow more freedom around advertising for e-cigarettes, a debate on their use in public spaces, that they could be prescribed by the NHS to help smokers quit, and consideration around current limits on refill strengths and tank sizes.

Science and Technology Committee chair Norman Lamb MP said: ‘If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS's stop smoking arsenal.’

However, CIEH has urged caution citing a lack of knowledge about long term effects and contradictory evidence. Public Health England, for example, has reviewed existing studies and found that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than conventional ones.

 Yet CIEH pointed to a new paper from the University of Birmingham that has said they are not safe. It has implicated e-cigarettes in serious health concerns and the DHSC has agreed to consider Birmingham University’s research.

CIEH head of policy Tony Lewis said: ‘It is clear that there is a huge knowledge gap on the health impacts of vaping over time, and the existence of contradictory reports only highlights the wide-spread confusion.

‘This aligns with what we have been saying for the last 18 months where we have consistently expressed caution around e-cigarettes.

‘Whilst we whole-heartedly support measures to encourage smokers to give up, we believe that the evidence gap on the long-term health implications of vaping needs addressing as a priority and more research carried out.

‘Quite simply, until more is known it would be irresponsible to wholeheartedly embrace vaping as the answer.’

Cancer Research UK has welcomed the committee’s report but warned any changes to legislation must be aimed at helping smokers quit.

Cancer Research UK senior policy manager George Butterworth said: ‘Any changes to current e-cigarette regulations should be aimed at helping smokers to quit whilst preventing young people from starting to use e-cigarettes.’

Asthma UK said it welcomed anti-smoking initiatives but also called for more research into the long term health effects of e-cigarettes to ensure they are safe for people with asthma.

Director of research and policy Dr Samantha Walker said: ‘People with asthma tell us that any sort of smoke or substance in the air can trigger their asthma symptoms, including the vapours or smells from e-cigarettes.

‘An estimated 750,000 people with asthma could find e-cigarettes trigger their asthma symptoms, leaving them coughing, wheezing and struggling to breathe.’

 

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