On March 4th, 2020, Public Health England (PHE) released its sixth independent report titled: Vaping In England: 2020 Evidence Update Summary, to summarise evidence on e-cigarettes to inform policies and regulations. The report starts off stating: “This report presents updates on the prevalence of vaping among young people and adults and reviews the literature on vaping among people with mental health conditions and pregnant women. A comprehensive e-cigarette safety review will be the focus of a future report.”
This report states that it’s collected it’s data from 6 nationally representative surveys to examine the prevalence and characteristics of vaping in England. They have also screened the international academic literature for studies published between November 2018 – October 2019 that report on vaping prevalence. Other data was collected by NHS Digital from stop smoking services, the MHRA’s Yellow Card Scheme, peer-reviewed publications, and 2 systematic reviews of the published academic literature in regards to vaping among people with mental health conditions and vaping in pregnancy.
Some takeaways from this 2020 report include:
- Current vaping pervasiveness among adult former smokers continued to increase in 2019 from 12% to 13% while adult smoking rates simultaneously continue to plummet.
- Adult smoking rates in England are continuing to decline sharply over the past 10 years to historic lows in 2019 of around 15%.
- Most adults utilize vaping items to help them quit smoking cigarettes.
- Vaping remains most popular among both current and former cigarette smokers with less than 1% of never smokers being active, daily vapers.
- Between 2018 and 2019, about 37% of current daily smokers admit to never having even tried vapor products as a smoking cessation aid.
- Regular vapers report that the banning of flavored vapor products would only discourage them from trying vaping as a safer alternative to smoking, thus potentially driving them back into the arms of Big Tobacco.
- Flavored vaping bans could also push current former-smokers-turned-vapers towards illicit or black market products.
- Less than 1% of young people who are never smokers are current vapers.
- There is an absence of evidence in England on the frequency and consequences of vaping during pregnancy and on the potential impacts of vaping on maternal health.
- “Perceptions of harm from vaping among smokers are increasingly out of line with the evidence. The proportion who thought vaping was less harmful than cigarettes declined from 45% in 2014 to 34% in 2019. These misperceptions are particularly common among smokers who do not vape.”
- “Similar to previous years, data from stop smoking services in England suggests that when a vaping product is used in a quit attempt, either alone or with licensed medication, success rates are comparable to, if not higher than, licensed medication alone.”
The report continues on to say “The data presented here suggests that vaping has not undermined the declines in adult smoking. Increasingly incorrect perceptions among the public about the harms of vaping could prevent some smokers from using vaping products to quit smoking. A ban on flavored liquids could have adverse effects and unintended consequences for smokers using vaping products to quit. It should only be considered with caution.”
The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) was in strong support PHE’s latest report. In a press release on March 4th, 2020 on the UKVIA’s website John Dunne, Director of the UKVIA, said “This provides further and concrete evidence that vaping has a crucial role to play in changing the lives of smokers around the country and it dispels the myths that youth vaping is currently a major issue. However, it also tells us that the gross misinformation that has been spread about the safety of vaping has had an effect on consumers’ perceptions of e-cigarettes which could greatly influence their decision to switch from smoking which carries significantly more health risk.” Needless to say, the American Vapor Industry couldn’t agree more.