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Supporting Smokers to Switch



On 22nd February 2018, under the Making Smoking History in the North East Partnership, Fresh held an event to disseminate the latest evidence on electronic cigarettes. The event was chaired by Professor Eugene Milne, lead Director of Public Health in the region on tobacco issues and featured Professor Ann McNeill, the lead author on the independent evidence review commissioned by PHE and published in early February 2018.


You can read PHE's review here .


The main findings of this comprehensive review are:


  • Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits. 


  • E-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more.


  • Many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette. The accuracy of public perceptions of the relative harmfulness of e-cigarettes vs tobacco cigarettes have worsened over recent years.


  • There is much public misunderstanding about nicotine. Less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine


  • Poisonings and fires from e-cigarettes are not common. Reports of poisonings have decreased and are rarely severe. 


  • Use of e-cigarettes by adults in the UK has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million; over half of these have completely stopped smoking


  • The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are acting a route into smoking for young people. While experimentation is fairly common, regular use of e-cigarettes among young people is rare and almost entirely confined to those who have already smoked. Youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline


  • Available evidence on heated tobacco products indicate they may be less harmful than smoking but so far most data comes from manufacturers.


All presentations from the Making Smoking History partnership event can be found below:


Prof Ann McNeil, UKCTAS, Professor of Tobacco Addiction, King's College London: Evidence review of e-cigarettes


Prof Paul Aveyard, Professor of Behavioural Medicine, University of Oxford: Should we be using e-cigarettes to support smoking cessation?


Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Programme Lead, Public Health England: E-cigarettes in the UK: Getting regulation right


Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy, Action on Smoking and Health: Evidence, perceptions and misconceptions


Carl Alexander, Health Information Expert, Cancer Research UK: The Cancer Research UK perspective


Lesley Colley, Project Lead Smoking Cessation and Nicotine Management, Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust: The role of electronic cigarettes in NHS smokefree policy implementation


Ailsa Rutter OBE., Director, Fresh: Electronic cigarettes in the North East: how this fits within the 5% by 2025 vision