The UK has long been known to be one of the most supportive countries regarding vaping. While other countries around the world have banned electronic cigarettes, the UK has continued to support them as a positive method to help smokers quit real cigarettes.
Now researchers in the UK have reacted angrily to a Q&A document about e-cigarettes that was released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The document covers nine questions, the first of which asks whether e-cigarettes and vaping products are dangerous. Part of the WHO’s answer to this question states:
“…these products are harmful to health and are not safe.”
They state there is evidence supporting this. However, this statement (and others in the document) has made researchers in the UK angry. Peter Hajek of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at the Queen Mary University of London stated that the World Health Organization has regularly indulged in “anti-vaping activism”. He also pointed out there is no evidence to support the WHO’s stance that vaping is addictive.
What else does the WHO say in its report?
It claims that young people who have never tried a cigarette are more likely to do so if they’ve previously vaped. This comes despite other sources of research revealing that only a tiny portion of young people start vaping without having smoked first.
They also touch on the potential for lung injuries to occur in vapers. While it is true that the USA has seen an outbreak of so-called EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury), these cases have been linked to THC-containing e-cigarettes rather than standard ones.
In answering the question, “What role do ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) play in smoking cessation?”, the WHO uses the word ‘unclear’ to describe vaping as a method to help people quit smoking.
Yet they do support nicotine replacement therapies, quit lines, and advice given by health professionals. All those methods have limited success, as has been proven over many years. Evidence, both anecdotal and otherwise, consistently shows that vaping has helped many smokers quit for good. Yet the WHO seems to be resolutely ignoring this.
Peter Hajek also pointed out that smoking among young people has reached its lowest ever level. Could vaping be a reason for this? Research supports e-cigarettes as a powerful method to help people stop smoking. No one is suggesting vaping is 100% safe, but Public Health England stands by its statement that electronic cigarettes are a minimum of “95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes.”
Vaping is more powerful than willpower alone
The ideal scenario would be for a smoker to switch to vaping and then to wean themselves off vaping. While some do this, others continue to vape instead of returning to cigarettes. Many researchers, especially those based in the UK, disagree with the WHO’s heavy-handed approach to the issue.
What do you think about the report from the World Health Organization? Has vaping helped you stop smoking? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.