Almost three years after its first report that said vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking, PHE isn’t backing down.
Once again, public health authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom are looking at the same information on vaping, but seeing two different things. And, as usual, it’s the British researchers who see mostly benefits.
Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a 600-page report that grudgingly admitted vaping is safer than smoking — and then went on to focus on a supposedly proven gateway from teen vaping to smoking.
But the new e-cigarette report from Public Health England (PHE) says that the gateway evidence for British teens is poor, and goes on to suggest that the evidence is equally inconclusive in North America — practically trolling the American authors.
“Although these surveys in Canada and the US cannot be directly compared with data from the UK, they suggest similar patterns,” says the PHE report. “First, that ever or recently using an EC [e-cigarette] is not unusual among young people overall. However, both ever and recent use is far more common among young people who smoke than young people who have never smoked.”
“Concern has been expressed that e-cigarette use will lead young people into smoking,” Prof. Linda Bauld, author and Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling, said in the PHE press release. “But in the UK, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate.”
That’s just a small part of the 243-page report, which lays out evidence on e-cigarettes that has emerged since PHE’s last look at the subject in 2015. The report also briefly addresses evidence on heat-not-burn tobacco products.
“Based on current knowledge,” the report concludes, “stating that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking remains a good way to communicate the large difference in relative risk unambiguously so that more smokers are encouraged to make the switch from smoking to vaping.”
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