The latest PHE vape report has been released and shows scare stories about vaping in the UK media is having a profound effect on smokers, meaning less are making the switch.
It also says any thoughts of flavour bans on these shores would be a disaster and urges caution for any legislation that may consider this option.
This is the 6th Public Health England study on e-cigarettes and it also shows the UK needs to remain vigilant when it comes to under-age youngsters buying e-cigs.
However, the numbers of young folk vaping remains extremely low at under 1% of 11-years-old and above, and is mainly limited among those that already smoke – never smoked young vapers are especially low and almost none existent.
The Vaping in England: 2020 evidence update summary is designed to enable politicians and those in health care to use the evidence to set policies and possible future legislation.
Public Health England says this latest paper will form the basis of a future ‘comprehensive e-cigarette safety review.‘
The report has been put together by:
Ann McNeill (King’s College London), Leonie S Brose (King’s College London), Robert Calder (King’s College London), Linda Bauld (University of Edinburgh, Cancer Research UK), Debbie Robson (King’s College London).
OK so let’s take a look at the key findings.
Latest PHE Vape Report – Recent Developments
The report looks at the recent outbreak of EVALI in the USA and says there’s no conclusive evidence any illnesses or deaths recorded in the UK were related:
There has been no similar lung disease outbreak in England, although the MHRA has received reports of 4 deaths through the Yellow Card Scheme where vaping was suspected to be implicated (2 before the implementation of TRPR and 2 more recently).
However, the connection with nicotine-containing vaping products has not yet been established.
The spate of lung injuries and deaths in the US is not attributable to the regulated nicotine vaping products currently sold in England.
But all suspected adverse reactions or suspected deaths need to be assessed.
The Latest PHE Vape Report Yellow Card scheme is where the public can contact the UK Government to report adverse drug and medicine related issues.
According to PHE, it received 84 reports of adverse reaction the submitter said was down to nic salts and adds:
A report is not proof that the reaction was caused by a vaping product, just that the reporter suspected it might have been.
I’ve written a guide on some of the reactions/side-effects new vapers can get experience – so read – Do You Suffer From Any Of These Vaping Side Effects? – for more info.
Latest PHE Vape Report – Young People and Vaping
Smoking among under 18s halved in 2009 and continues to fall.
As for vaping and as we’ve already seen, there’s a small percentage of youngsters that vape more than once per week – however this is limited to those that have smoked or are looking to quit.
Current vaping prevalence (weekly or less than weekly) among young people in England has remained reasonably steady with the best recent estimates putting it at 6% of 11 to 15-year-olds in 2018 and 5% of 11 to 18-year-olds in 2019.
Older children are more likely to vape. Current use among 11-year-olds was estimated at less than 1% in 2018, compared with 11% of 15-year-olds.
Current vaping is mainly concentrated in young people who have experience of smoking. Less than 1% of young people who have never smoked are current vapers.
No surveys reported much increase in vaping prevalence.
In other words, there is NO teen vaping epidemic in the UK – something we’ve been saying for years.
The key point from PHE is:
Most young people who have tried vaping, do so from curiosity.
It’s that rite of passed thing again – many kids will try alcohol – smoking and yes shock horror even vaping…it’s called ‘experimenting’ – something we’ve probably all done in various forms.
Does that make it right? No of course not – but put it into perspective – some of things we did as kids would make most parents go grey overnight these days…
Of greater concern to PHE is how the kids are getting their hands on vape gear and call for more vigilance from vape shops both bricks and mortar and online:
Almost 60% of 11 to 15-year-olds who vaped regularly (more than once a week) reported being given vaping products, mostly by friends.
But many also reported buying vaping products from other people, shops and the internet.
Vaping and smoking prevalence among young people in England should continue to be closely monitored.
Enforcement of age of sale regulations needs to be improved.
You can’t argue with that and in particular those vape stalls on markets where in most cases no ID is checked – and yup I’ve seen it happen at my local Saturday market. Indeed some of the e-liquid on sale on some of the stalls makes me shudder when looking at the labels…
I suggest you read my article – Challenge 25 – Is It Challenging To the Vape Industry? – and if you sell vape products to seriously consider adopting Challenge 25 or something similar as a matter of routine.
Latest PHE Vape Report – Vaping Among Adults
It appears the number of smokers switching to vaping has slowed in the UK, whilst the number of regular vapers has stalled.
We have seen a 1% increase of smokers turning to vaping, 12% in 2018 to just 13% last year.
Numbers vary on the amount of UK vapers, but it’s estimated at between 5% and 7% of the population. Recent figures suggest that means around 3.6million of us.
It’s extremely rare and way below 1% for vapers to have never smoked and over a third of smokers have tried vaping at some point.
Poorer communities appear to embrace vaping more readily and this says PHE is more down to the cost effectiveness of e-cigarettes vs the price hikes in lit tobaco.
Overall, the number of UK smokers continues to fall steadily over the past decade with the current figure at around 15% of the population.
The good news is that e-cigarettes really are more successful in quit smoking attempts – PHE says:
Similar to previous years, data from stop smoking services in England suggests that when a vaping product is used in a quit attempt, either alone or with licensed medication, success rates are comparable to, if not higher than, licensed medication alone.
Where international information is available, adult vaping prevalence in England appears to be higher than in other countries.
However, PHE says the number of smokers quitting via vaping is being hampered by scaremongering among the media adding and warns any thoughts of banning flavours would be disastrous:
The data presented here suggests that vaping has not undermined the declines in adult smoking.
Increasingly incorrect perceptions among the public about the harms of vaping could prevent some smokers using vaping products to quit smoking.
A ban on flavoured liquids could have adverse effects and unintended consequences for smokers using vaping products to quit. It should only be considered with caution.
That’s a real vote of confidence for flavoured e-liquids here in the UK to say the least!
The bulk of the latest Public Health England report on vaping is extremely upbeat regarding e-cigarettes.
It also suggests that whilst vaping during pregnancy is far safe than smoking, more studies need to be carried out.
However, they do direct pregnant mom’s to the NHS Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group – something I’ve covered in the article: Vaping Whilst Pregnant – New Study Says It’s MUCH Safer For Mom and Baby Than Smoking.
PHE is also calling for more work around the topic of smoking/vaping and mental health, suggesting medical professionals in that field need training on the subject.
They’ve covered pretty much all the bases on this latest report and gives vaping as a harm reduction tool a clean bill of health.
However the authors are concerned at the public’s perception of vaping – particularly on the back of the EVALI outbreak in the USA.
Professor John Britton said:
It is concerning to see how much the US lung disease outbreak has affected smokers’ views on e-cigarettes here in the UK.
Safety fears may well be deterring many smokers from switching, leaving them on a path to years of ill health and an early death due to their smoking.
The US authorities have now confirmed that vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent added to cannabis vaping liquid, was a primary cause of the US outbreak. This substance is banned in UK-regulated nicotine vaping products.
E-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, which causes 220 premature deaths a day in England.
Our advice remains that for anyone who smokes tobacco, the most important thing is to stop smoking altogether and e-cigarettes can be an effective way to help smokers do that.
It all comes down to the media and its persistent anti-vaping scurrilous stories that have put the fear of God in smokers – vapers and even none smokers.
Unless it stops – then smoking rates will remain stalled and that as I’ve said very many times means more deaths.
As to if the UK or indeed world media will embrace the health benefits of making the switch to e-cigs?
Sadly I doubt it.
I’ll have more vape news on Sunday!