Although the other parts of the article can be sympathized with to some extent, the notion that PHE is just listening to the “siren voices” of vape manufacturers is laughable. The PHE report wasn’t the result of consultation with the industry; it was based on consultation with the available scientific evidence. The report is over 200 pages long and is forensic in its detail.
The evidence strongly suggests that vaping is much safer than smoking. After reviewing the evidence, the PHE authors wrote, “Based on current knowledge, stating that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking remains a good way to communicate the large difference in relative risk unambiguously so that more smokers are encouraged to make the switch from smoking to vaping. It should be noted that this does not mean e-cigarettes are safe.”
For the issue of how effective vapes are for quitting smoking, PHE again conducted a reasonable review of the evidence. More data is needed to really be firm on this – and the authors note that meta-analyses of the evidence so far have produced varying results – but they conclude that “E-cigarette use, alone or in combination with licensed medication and behavioural support from a Stop Smoking Service, appear to be helpful in the short term.”
They also point out that estimates suggest that vaping has led to 22,000 new quitters — people who wouldn’t have quit otherwise — each year in the U.K., and possibly as many as 57,000. The figures have to be interpreted cautiously, but the idea that they’re proving to be a valuable tool for some smokers has strong support.
Had the vaping industry’s “siren song” been responsible for these recommendations, you can safely say they’d be a little more robust and strongly positive. PHE hasn’t been enraptured by unsupported claims from the mythical “Big Vapor.” Rather, it has taken an objective look at the evidence and made some pragmatic recommendations.
The number of smokers who don’t know that vaping is safer than smoking is appallingly high, and the “at least 95 percent safer” figure conveys the point well. E-cigarettes are by far the most popular quitting aid used in the U.K., and the evidence – while limited – suggests that they work, so PHE is encouraging their use.
There is no conspiracy to keep people addicted to nicotine; the recommendations for e-cigarettes and other quitting methods exist to help as many people as possible.