It’s important to delve into the detail when addressing pre-conceived ideas regarding vaping – which is why RELX International has compiled science and research-based answers to a list of common questions that surround the topic. 

From the effects of vaping to its possible impact on smoking cessation, the experts have collated a series of insights to help adult consumers and policymakers make informed decisions.

The findings are supported by research carried out by renowned tobacco harm reduction advocate, Dr Colin Mendelsohn.

Are e-cigarettes less harmful than smoking?

Yes, extensive research and scientific studies have consistently shown that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional smoking. Vaping eliminates the combustion process that generates harmful toxins and carcinogens, resulting in reduced health risks.

A 2022 review by the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities found vaping poses only a “small fraction of the risks of smoking” and is “at least 95% less harmful”, while an independent King’s College London report also found vaping to be considerably less harmful than smoking.

Is vaping harmful to bystanders?

No, there is no scientific evidence to indicate that there is a second-hand effect from vaping. Unlike traditional tobacco smoke, which releases harmful particles into the air, e-cigarette vapour does not pose a significant risk to bystanders.

A 2018 Public Health England review found “there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders”.

Are there unknown long-term risks from vaping?

The current body of scientific research does not indicate unknown long-term risks associated with vaping. While ongoing studies continue to assess the potential health implications, the data suggests vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking.

According to the Royal College of Physicians, the long-term risk of vaping is likely to be no more than 5% of the risk of smoking.

Does vaping help people quit smoking?

Yes, vaping is believed to be the most effective means of quitting available. According to the NHS, there’s evidence e-cigarettes can be effective in helping users “quit smoking for good”.

A 2021 review by the public health service found people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, as well as having expert face-to-face support, can be up to twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.

Should disposable flavoured vapes be banned?

No. Disposable vapes provide an easy and efficient entry point for adult smokers to adopt a less harmful next-generation alternative. Therefore, to support efforts towards a ‘smokeless’ society, it’s important to offer adult consumers the option of disposable devices.

A 2023 study by London South Bank University found adult smokers who specifically chose a vape flavour and received subsequent support were 55% more likely to give up smoking in three months than those who did not receive these services.

Do we know what’s in vapes? What about unreliable devices?

It is important to purchase vaping products from trusted and reputable brands.

Established manufacturers, like RELX International, adhere to strict quality and safety standards, ensuring that adult consumers have access to reliable devices and information about the ingredients in vape products.

Chris Aikens, RELX International’s External Affairs Manager Europe, said: “We believe that fostering an open dialogue backed by reliable scientific research is essential when discussing vaping.

“As a responsible vape brand, we are committed to providing high-quality products that meet stringent safety standards.

“By aligning our efforts with evidence-based understanding, we can continue to empower adult smokers seeking a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nicotine-vaping-in-england-2022-evidence-update

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-and-heated-tobacco-products-evidence-review

https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/sep/29/switch-from-smoking-to-vaping-cuts-health-risks-substantially-report-finds

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jul/16/smokers-who-get-e-cigarette-flavour-advice-more-likely-to-quit-report-finds

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