Myth #1: Vaping is as harmful as smoking
REALITY: Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking, according to Public Health England, a health agency of the UK government, mainly because vaping products only contain o fraction of the 7.000 chemical compounds (many of them harmful) that can be found in cigarettes. Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University London and one of the independent authors of this study says: „ My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health. Smokers differ in their needs and I would advise them not to give up on e-cigarettes if they do not like the first one they try. It may take some experimentation with different products and e-liquids to find the right one.”
Myth #2: Vaping doesn’t really help smokers quit smoking
REALITY: Two very important studies published in 2019 show that vaping is an efficient smoke cessation method. Thus, a major clinical study with 900 participants, financed by the New England Journal of Medicine, has demonstrated that vaping devices are almost twice as efficient when it comes to helping smokers give up on smoking, in comparison with standard smoking cessation methods (nicotine replacement therapy – NRT).
This was followed in May 2019 by the appearance of a study by Cancer Research UK which shows that vaping can double the success rate of people who try to quit smoking. According to this study which collected data from 19.000 people who tried to quit smoking over a period of 12 month in the 2006-2018 interval, vaping users are 95% more likely to report success when it comes to giving up on smoking than those who tried to quit without any help.
These studies are also validated by data regarding the whole of the European Union. In Europe, vaping products have helped over 15 million people stop or reduce their smoking. Among these, 6.1 million have actually stopped smoking thanks to vaping products, while 9.2 million have reduced their tobacco consumption because of vaping.
Myth #3: Vaping is a gateway to making minors start smoking and normalizes the idea of smoking amongst them
REALITY: The sharp increase in the popularity of vaping products has not led more children to take up cigarettes or regard smoking as normal, with tobacco use still falling. A study published in April 2019 by a consortium led by Cardiff University and financed by the National Institute for Health Research, focused on three national surveys canvassing the views of almost 250,000 young people, and found that from 1998 to 2015 the percentage of children aged between 13 and 15 who had smoked decreased from 60% to 19%, and also reported that the percentage of young people who reported that trying a cigarette was “OK” declined from 70% in 1999 to 27% in 2015. Dr. Graham Moore, based at the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, said: “These findings suggest that fears over a resurgence in youth tobacco smoking because of the rise in e-cigarette use are largely unfounded to date. The nature of e-cigarettes, and the landscape in which they are sold and used, continue to change rapidly, and we need to continue to keep a close eye on how they affect young people. However, this study demonstrates the success of public health efforts in reducing smoking among young people in the last 20 years and provides no evidence that e-cigarettes are reversing this.”
Myth #4: Exposure to vaping vapor is harmful to bystanders, thus vaping in public places should be banned the same way that smoking is.
REALITY: Unlike cigarettes that emit smoke from both ends, both towards the smoker and the people around them, vaping devices only emit vapor towards the user. So unlike cigarettes, there is no side-stream vapor emitted by an e-cigarette into the atmosphere, just the exhaled aerosol. Research regarding “passive smoking” through vaping devices has not identified any health risks of passive vaping to the health of bystanders, which shows there’s no need for an indoor ban on vaping. This position is clearly explained in the vaping research strategy document published by Cancer Research UK in 2016: „Based on the evidence currently available, we do not believe there is justification for an indoor ban on e-cigarettes, either on the basis of potential harm to bystanders from second-hand vapor or that they renormalized smoking tobacco. E-cigarette vapor can contain toxicants; however this is usually at levels which are far lower than those found in tobacco cigarettes and there’s no convincing evidence demonstrating actual harm to bystanders. Unnecessary regulation risks sending the message that e-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco and this could deter quitting. ”
This aspects were again laid out in the 2018 public strategy document of Public Health England, which presented some of the most recent studies regarding vaping and concluded that the exposure level to harmful substances of people near vaping users as almost non-detectable in comparison to levels emitted by cigarettes.
Myth #5: Vaping vapor contains carcinogenic substances and thus can be harmful
REALITY: Unlike cigarettes, vapor from vaping devices does not contain tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful substances emitted by cigarettes. Certain substances found in cigarette smoke can also be detected in vaping vapor, but at much lower levels. For this reason, using vaping devices long-term is much safer than smoking. One of the most relevant studies in that direction is the one carried out in 2017 by University College London and financed by Cancer Research UK, the first carried out in the real world and not in a lab, on a group of 181 ex-smoker participants. Significantly lower levels of cancer causing chemicals were found in samples from former smokers using vaping devices only, compared with current smokers. Prof. Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: „This study provides further evidence that switching to e-cigarettes can significantly reduce harm to smokers, with greatly reduced exposure to carcinogens and toxins. “
Myth #6: State and health institutions are against vaping, which means it must be harmful
REALITY: A great number of state and nonprofit institutions from the field of public health support the positive role that vaping can bring in the life of smokers. Public Health England, the key public health agency in the UK, has reiterated in its strategy document regarding vaping launched on February 17, 2019, the same position it has held for the last 5 years: vaping can play a major role in improving public health.
This position is shared by Cancer Research UK, one of the most important cancer prevention nonprofits in the UK, which states in its strategy document that scientific proof so far shows that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and can help smokers to reduce or even quit smoking.
A similar take on the problem comes from the Haut Conseil de la Sante Publique in France, which says in its vaping report that: „Vaping can be considered a good tool to reduce tobacco addiction for people who are looking to quit smoking.”
The most recent take on the matter comes from the Health Ministry in New Zealand, which has launched in June 2019 a new website that encourages smokers to make the switch to vaping as a way to quit smoking. The website launch will be followed by a TV and online campaign.
Myth #7: The vaping industry is not regulated and vaping products can contain dangerous substances
REALITY: The vaping industry is one of the most regulated, all over the world. In the European Union, the vaping industry must not only conform to the Directive regarding tobacco products (2014/40/UE), but also to the production standards from the “Product Safety Regulation,” and „Classification, Labeling and Packaging Regulation” chapters. In the UK, vaping is under some of the strictest regulation for e-cigarettes in the world. Under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, e-cigarette products are subject to minimum standards of quality and safety, as well as packaging and labeling requirements to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices. All products must be notified by manufacturers to the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with detailed information including the listing of all ingredients. In the US, the vaping industry is regulated by the FDA, with its regulation finalized in August 8, 2016, that covers the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of vaping products.