MPs Agree Vaping Can Be Weapon Against Smoking

MPs Agree Vaping Can Be Weapon Against Smoking 1

Since public health bodies and government agencies first took the nuclear approach to reminding smokers that smoking is a wee bit bad for your health, a whole range of graphic images and dire warnings have adorned cigarette and tobacco packaging. Perhaps, as most smokers will tell you, the most infuriating runs along the lines of ‘smoking kills, don’t start’.

Yeah, right, nobody in their right mind would, these days. If you’re holding that packaging in your hand you already know what you are – an addict. Yes, we know it’s addictive, even as we light up.  The only light at the end of the tunnel in recent years has been the development of vaping and the e-cigarette industry.

However, even this has been met with controversy and has been, if not condemned by the nanny state, tutted at and sent to join the remaining smokers outside, on the naughty step. This may, however, all be set to change with a new government report which – take a deep refreshing breath everyone – suggests that vaping is about to be taken very seriously. And in a good way!

MPs ‘Endorse’ vaping?

The report, published by the Science and Technology Committee, concludes that e-cigarettes should not be treated in the same manner as tobacco products. The basis for the conclusion is the result of a comparison between the harmfulness of the two alternatives. The recommendations include the proposal that policies relating to e-cigarettes should be reviewed in prisons, hospitals and other public areas, including on public transport.

It also recommends that advertising restrictions should be reviewed and that e-cigarettes may be worth considering for medical licensing, meaning they could be prescribed as a stop-smoking aid.  

Positive Focus

For anybody thinking of swapping from tobacco to vaping, the report is encouraging reading. Public Health England, the report points out, currently estimates that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. That tiny risk has, until now, largely been the focus of most discussion and media reporting on the issue but – common sense prevailing, at least for once – the report focuses on that whopping big 95% figure.

It’s long been recognised that nicotine itself, the addictive bit of both smoking and vaping, isn’t actually the problem when it comes to the health-related issues around smoking. It’s that last bit, the smoke, and all the toxic chemicals that it includes, that does the damage. Whilst e-cigarettes also use nicotine they don’t contain the more dangerous substances found in tobacco smoke. Most vaping products emitting nothing more harmless than a bit of steam, which kettles have been doing for years without serious side effects to nearby users.

Vaping Helps in the Battle Against Smoking – Who Knew?

On the same common-sense theme, the report also emphasises the fact that tens of thousands of people are using vaping to successfully quit smoking each year. Official figures suggest that this group is part of a much wider movement in society to see vaping rapidly replacing smoking – estimates suggest that there are 2.9 million users of vaping products in the UK.

Many of these are using vaping as a way in which to stop smoking for good – something that government campaigns and NHS schemes have only had partial success with in the past. This factor, the report emphasises, is a sound basis for the NHS to reconsider its attitude and policies towards vaping and e-cigarette products. This includes considering offering them as stop-smoking tools, available on prescription. 

Wider Recommendations

The recommendations in the report offer a lot of encouragement for those currently vaping or those hoping to quit smoking using e-cigarettes. In addition to highlighting the comparative safety of e-cigarettes, when compared to tobacco, the study also goes on to make several key recommendations that could see restrictions on vaping lifted. These include:

  • Lifting, or altering, advertising restrictions for manufacturers
  • Lowering duty or taxes on e-cigarette and vaping products
  • Annual reviews of the health implications of vaping
  • Licensing e-cigarettes as medical products
  • Revisiting the limits on the strength of re-fill products and tank sizes.

Public Spaces – What’s the Problem?

One of the first issues that raised objections to the idea that vaping should be allowed in a wider range of public spaces – including on public transport and in offices – was that this may risk normalising vaping. It’s certainly true that at one time, and not so very long ago, smoking was so common that you couldn’t walk into a bar, restaurant or maternity unit without being enveloped in a stinking fug of smoke.

Those days are gone and few of us would want to see them return. However, many organisations have simply extended smoking restrictions to vaping without, apparently, giving the issues much thought. In reality vaping is not covered by the smoking ban and Public Health England already recommends that organisations should consider not including vaping when setting out smoking policies.

The body states that vaping “should be made a more convenient as well as a safer option”. This hasn’t stopped most workplaces and public bodies from blanket banning vaping alongside its more lethal cousin. However, with both health bodies and MPs now taking a subtler approach, this could be set to change.  If you need to up your knowledge on Vaping etiquette, here’s 5 tips 5 Tips for Polite Vaping

Making the Healthy Choice

Apart from rather generalised fears about the normalisation of vaping, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on your perspective, it’s also likely that a more liberal approach to vaping may be unpopular with those who have never smoked or vaped before. This is fair enough and many would certainly object to allowing workers to vape at their desk or to do so indiscriminately on public transport.

However, if public bodies were to take up the surprisingly common-sense approach reflected in the report, recent history could demonstrate a way forward to relax regulations on vaping. Smoking rooms, carriages and decks, in offices, on trains and buses were all once the preserve of the hardened smoker. The concept could easily be adapted to create vaping areas in public spaces and offices and doing so may have the accidental, and very beneficial, effect of encouraging yet more people to make the healthy choice, stub out the smoke and charge up the vape.