Vaping saves lives. It’s an impressive and dramatic statement, but according to the Royal College of Physicians this is exactly the case. They’ve recently issued a report that runs to 200 pages and covers many of the issues surrounding vaping today. The report has added weight to many of the findings discovered by others, namely that e-cigarettes can lead to people quitting smoking, and do not encourage non-smokers to start smoking when they have never done so before.
Let’s get one thing clear: The Royal College of Physicians isn’t a small concern. It was founded in 1518 by none other than Henry VIII, and it has two aims – to improve how patients are cared for and to reduce the instances of illness. It is no big surprise then that they should have an interest in vaping, especially as many smokers are using e-cigarettes as a solution to help them quit smoking.
Stop Smoking with the NHS
Many smokers are aware they can get help to quit smoking via the NHS and their Stop Smoking service. According to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), around half (51%) of people who used these services did manage to quit. The NHS has now introduced electronic cigarettes into their Stop Smoking service as well. While it is still early days, around two-thirds (66%) of those who used e-cigs to help them quit did succeed in doing so.
How does long-term vaping stack up against long-term smoking?
The RCP’s report considered long-term use of electronic cigarettes and the likelihood that such use could potentially be harmful. It is too soon to determine what the long-term outlook could be in this case. However, using the data that is currently available, the report estimated that the health risks may only be around 5% or less than those associated with smoking.
This tallies with a report from Public Health England last year that stated electronic cigarettes are “around 95% safer than smoking.” It’s no wonder some of the 8.7 million smokers in the UK today have been inspired to switch to vaping as a reasonable alternative.
Reducing life expectancy
One thing you won’t hear about is any reduction in the life expectancy of someone who decides to switch from smoking to vaping. The RCP has previously stated that after the age of 35, every year someone remains a smoker knocks around three months off their life expectancy. While vaping still provides the nicotine hit many smokers desire, it gets rid of all the other nasties that are found in cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Of course, we don’t have the same body of research to rely on when assessing the long-term effects of vaping. However, as the RCP says in its report, many people switch from smoking to vaping and end up quitting as a result. Would those people have quit smoking if vaping hadn’t been available to them as an option? Maybe not. Given the higher rate of quitting attributable to those who take up vaping instead, we can assume it provides a solution that is more appealing to more smokers who do want to quit.
Unfortunately, the EU’s stance on e-cigarettes is not as positive. The new Tobacco Directive aims to reduce nicotine levels in e-liquids and restrict promotion of e-cigs, which may mean fewer people are able to access them. While knowledge of vaping is more widespread today, it seems the views of some are still stuck in the past. Fortunately, we have a huge body of research in the 200-page report from the RCP that points to the potential health benefits of switching from smoking to vaping.