Yorkshire Cancer Research have produced a video in partnership with a number of healthcare professionals, exploring the myths and misconceptions about vaping and the huge part it could play in our journey towards a smokefree future.

Vaping myths

Many people believe that e-cigarettes were created by major tobacco companies, but in actual fact they were the brainchild of one man. Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, wanted to find a better way to kick his smoking habit. Having lost his father to smoking-related illness, and struggle to find a stop smoking aid that worked for him, he knew there had to be a better way. The first modern e-cigarette was produced in 2003, and since then the global market has grown to be worth an estimated £15 billion.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions that could be preventing many smokers from making the switch from smoking to vaping.

Researchers found that 37% of the adult population in the UK believe that vaping is either as harmful or more harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes. Despite the overwhelming evidence against this, more people are falling victim to this misconception every year. Liam Humberstone, of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, explains;

“The first of the myths about vaping that is really, really tragic is that people say it's just as bad for you as smoking. Something like 1/3 of smokers in the UK actually believe that. It's absolutely not the truth.”

Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy at ASH, adds;

“To switch your smoking fully to using an e-cigarette is a dramatic change to what you're doing to your body in terms of the harm that you're taking on board.”

Public Health England have found e-cigarettes to be 95% less harmful than smoking, however, news outlets and the media still often portray vaping as a bad habit. A number of the people speaking in the video express the need to not judge others on their choice to vape, but to view this as a positive choice for their future health. When making the decision between continuing to smoke and switching to an e-cigarette, they could easily be making the most important decision of their life.

Interviews with the public at the beginning of the video reveal another common misconception about vaping, do we really know what's inside them? The simple answer to this, yes!

Dr Sharon Cox, Senior Researcher University College London elaborates on this by saying,

“One myth is that we don't know anything. We don't know anything about them, we don't know what's in them, and that's a really common myth. Now, e-cigarettes are possibly one of the most heavily researched innovations of our time.”

Cigarettes contain over 6000 different chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. E-liquids on the other hand, contain only vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, flavourings, and nicotine. The UK has some of the best regulations for the production and ingredients of e-liquids in the world. All ingredients have been toxicologically tested to ensure they are suitable for inhalation, and nicotine is tested to ensure it is suitable for consumption.

Embracing a new form of nicotine replacement

In England, 52% of smokers say they want to quit smoking, and in 2019 the UK government announced its aim for England to be smoke free by 2030. Evidence has found e-cigarettes to be both the most popular and most effective stop smoking aid, when combined with support. Here in the UK a number of stop smoking services now offer e-cigarettes as an option for nicotine replacement therapy. Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Lead at Public Health England, explains;

“One big UK trial that compared to the best combination of nicotine replacement therapy plus behavioural support, with e-cigarettes plus behavioural support, comparing the two like-for-like, found e-cigarettes were about twice as effective in helping smokers quit, at about a fifth of the cost.”

Not only does the video demonstrate the statistics around the benefits of making the switch from smoking to vaping, it also includes clips from interviews with real people who have made this switch. They all report seeing a dramatic change in their health and well-being, such as breathing easier and having more energy.

Speaking on the future of vaping, Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, says;

“I think we'll look back in the future and, think why didn't people switch to vaping sooner?”

With tobacco harm expert, Clive Bates, adding;

“I see it as a major innovation in the tobacco/nicotine field, that will ultimately render cigarettes obsolete.”