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PHE releases new vaping report

Public Health England, the UK government agency responsible for implementing health policy, released a new report on vaping this Tuesday. Building on its landmark 2015 evidence review, PHE have studied reams of new research to update their earlier conclusions. The results are extremely positive for vaping.

The main findings of the report mostly reinforce what PHE said three years ago, but with more confidence added by the more recent science. Among the highlights:

  • Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking, and switching completely to e-cigarettes brings substantial health benefits.
  • At least 20,000 extra British smokers are quitting every year because of vapour products – and the actual number could be much higher.
  • Vaping is associated with higher quit rates and an accelerated drop in the smoking rate.
  • The evidence does not support the “gateway” argument that vaping leads young people into tobacco smoking; the number of young smokers in the UK is continuing to fall.
  • Misinformation is rife – many smokers have been deceived into believing that vaping is as harmful as smoking, and less than 10% of the public know that nicotine isn’t the harmful ingredient in cigarette smoke.
  • The number of vapers in the UK has reached a plateau at around three million.

PHE also have a series of recommendations for healthcare professionals, and some of them go much further than any agency has done previously. For example, they say e-cigarettes should be sold in hospital shops to encourage smokers to quit, and that local stop smoking services should support smokers who want to vape. While some services are already doing this others take a more hostile approach; hopefully PHE’s firm stance will start to change this.

More vape bans threatened in USA

Despite the increasingly overwhelming evidence that vapour products are much safer than tobacco and a great aid to helping smokers quit, low-level US politicians seem determined to keep banning them. A new law proposed in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, aims to ban vaping anywhere smoking is banned; the mayor and councillors will be considering it in the near future.

Meanwhile in Lafayette, Indiana the city council debated their own vaping ban on Monday night, and passed it unanimously on the first vote. If it gets through a second vote it will ban vaping in indoor public spaces, including restaurants and workplaces.

E-cigs make Smokefree jail “calmer and safer”

The UK’s first Smokefree prison recently brought in a pilot scheme to supply inmates with e-cigarettes, and it’s already turned out to be a spectacular success. The jail at Jurby on the Isle of Man banned smoking in 2008, and it’s been plagued with problems ever since.

It turns out that if you tell convicts they can’t smoke, they’re probably not going to obey the rules. It also turns out that an amazing variety of things can be smoked if someone’s desperate enough, ranging from teabags to banana skin. There were also problems with inmates – who weren’t allowed matches or lighters – looking for ways to light their home-made cigarettes. More than 800 power cuts were caused by prisoners using kettles and plug sockets as improvised igniters.

In the pilot scheme, inmates were allowed to buy a supply of specially designed e-cigarettes every week, and use them in their cells and outdoor areas. Since the trial began, staff have seen a dramatic improvement in behaviour inside the jail. Behaviour warnings are down by 58%, power cuts by 50% and spending on nicotine replacement therapy by £8,500. The number of inmates trying to quit smoking has also increased by 25%. The chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board praised the scheme and said stopping vaping in the jail would be a “retrograde step”.

Prescription e-cig “won’t see light of day,” says BAT

British American Tobacco caused a stir two years ago when their eVoke cigalike was approved by the UK’s medicines regulator; some tobacco control experts were enthusiastic about having a vapour product that could be given on prescription, while the more ideological couldn’t see beyond the fact it was made by a tobacco company. Now the picture has changed again, with BAT announcing that the eVoke will probably never go into mass production.

Sources inside the company said there were difficulties in scaling up to full-scale production, but science director David O’Reilly also suggested that technological progress, and the opening up of new channels to bring reduced risk devices to market, had made the eVoke obsolete.

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