“Almost three million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes, but there are still significant gaps in the research guiding their regulation and sale,” said Chair of the Committee and MP Norman Lamb.
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“They are seen by some as valuable tools that will reduce the number of people smoking ‘conventional’ cigarettes, and seen by others as ‘re-normalising’ smoking for the younger generation. We want to understand where the gaps are in the evidence base, the impact of the regulations, and the implications of this growing industry on NHS costs and the UK’s public finances,” he added.
Despite the fact that since the advent of e-cigarettes, the UK’s smoking rates have dropped to a record low, the Science and Technology Committee is calling for evidence on whether the devices are acting as a gateway to smoking for young adults.
Study indicates that vaping rates amongst UK youths remains low
Linda Bauld who is a Professor of Health Policy at the Institute for Social Marketing at University of Stirling, and lead author of the above study said: “Recent studies have generated alarming headlines that e-cigarettes are leading to smoking. Our analysis of the latest surveys from all parts of the United Kingdom, involving thousands of teenagers shows clearly that for those teens who don’t smoke, e-cig experimentation is simply not translating into regular use.”
An opportunity to put misconceptions about e-cigarettes to rest
Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, Prof John Britton, thinks that this inquiry is a positive initiative, and a good opportunity to put all the misconceptions about e-cigarettes to rest. “I think this inquiry is a good idea it if helps draw a line under the common misconceptions about e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes have revolutionised smoking and are generating a huge public health benefit,” he said.
“It could be argued that it would be better if people didn’t use nicotine in the long run, but you could say the same about caffeine. The effect of long term nicotine use is trivial compared with smoking,” added Britton.
Last July, the UK government released the document, Towards a Smokefree Generation, A Tobacco Control Plan for England, in which it talks about its “bold ambition for a smoke-free generation” and plans to cut smoking rates from the current 15.5% to 12% or less by 2022. The Tobacco Plan encourages localities to develop their own tobacco control strategies, with a focus on e-cigarettes and other harm reduction/smoking cessation tools.