Action On Smoking and Health (ASH UK)
Use Of Electronic Cigarettes in Great Britain 2014-05-01
ASH UK carries out an annual survey into national e cig usage in order to discover trends, identify opportunities and highlight dangers.
ASH UK has previously stated in their 2013 report that there was next to no evidence that e-cigs were marketed at or appealed to teenagers and that teens who vaped tended to also be those who were or used to smoke; these findings have been largely ignored by the media and anti-ecig campaigners on both sides of the Atlantic.
This week’s release has produced an intense level of coverage in both print and visual media due in part to the wholly positive findings in favour of e cigarettes.
The first keynote finding was that the previous estimate of 1.3 million vapers in the UK was a serious underestimate. With the widely covered discovery that this figure tends towards 2.1million it means that even more weight has now been placed behind the fight for sensible legislation rather than the hotchpotch of illogical proposals based on flawed and misrepresented science.
As ASH highlight that around two-thirds of vapers currently “dual-fuel” (smoke and vape) it supports the notion that smokers see vaping as the most credible way out of their habit and offering the best potential for success. It also recognises the growing number of places that will allow vaping to take place while smoking remains banned. It would be nice to think that this has been, in part, the result of the ongoing social campaigns but there is no evidence to support this.
While knowledge of the existence of e cigarettes is very high among smokers and the general public the vaping community still has work to do in educating the ¼ of people polled as to the efficacy and safety of the pastime.
Not just does the report clearly state that vaping does not act as a gateway to cigarettes, “use amongst never smokers remains negligible”, but it also reaffirms that this applies equally to teenagers.
Deborah Arnott, representing ASH UK, stated,
“there is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”
Unsurprisingly, seeing as the argument that e cigs act like a gateway to tobacco is mainly found in American media, the American Council on Science & Health (ACSH) have been quick to cite this report in their latest press release:
Dr. Gil Ross had this comment: “I really don’t have much to add to the results of this survey. It’s quite clear: in the UK, vapers have taken to vaping quite enthusiastically, the goal being to escape from smoking. Even though many both smoke and vape, the health benefits of reducing your cigarette consumption is also to be desired. And the teen data confirm what our own CDC knows but refuses to divulge: teens who do not smoke yet are attracted to e-cigs are few and far between, a fact that should be drummed into the heads of our own politicians who seek to ban them ‘for the sake of the children.’”
The Guardian points out that this report mirrors the findings of the University College of London, spearheaded by Dr. Robert West, which will release its full report next month.
It was Dr West who was called into the BBC to give interviews to the news channel and radio stations and spoke eloquently about the potential vaping has to saving lives.
Other papers including the most right-wing Daily Mail, equally effusive about its contents, also carried coverage of the report that one would expect to see in the likes of The Guardian.
As the legal and corporate affairs director of E-lites commented,
“Study after study is showing that scaremongering…is baseless nonsense”.
A comment aimed squarely at the British Medical Association (BMA), pointing out their error in siding with the pharmaceutical industry due to their close ties.
The report also revealed that vapers have become more sophisticated and rely more and more on refillable tanks that disposables, the latter dropping down to just 8% of e cigarette use.
In conclusion, as an influential organisation, e cigarette users could not have wished for a more positive contribution to the catalogue of evidence debunking the myths of the ‘anti’ campaigners.
• ASH PDF Report
• Gerry V. Stimson. Public health leadership and electronic cigarette users. The European Journal of Public Health 2014; doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku049. Oxfordjournals PDF
• West R, Brown J & Beard E. Trends in electronic cigarette use in England. Smoking Toolkit Study. University College London, 4th April 2014 update. http://www.smokinginengland.info/latest-statistics/