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Vaping 'definitely less harmful' than smoking cigarettes

However it only has health benefits when used as a route to stop smoking completely.

Vaping: E-cigs 'definitely less harmful' than tobacco.
Vaping: E-cigs 'definitely less harmful' than tobacco. © Creative Commons Cropped

Health experts have said e-cigarettes are "definitely less harmful" than smoking tobacco.

For the first time, more than 20 experts from the NHS, Scottish Government, charities and academia have joined forces to "clarify confusion" surrounding the effects of vaping.

They said that while using e-cigarettes alongside tobacco provided no health benefits, they should be promoted as a device for helping smokers quit the habit completely.

Dr Andrew Fraser, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said the experts wanted to dispel any public perception of e-cigarettes being just as harmful as tobacco.

He said: "Recent research has shown an emerging perception among the general public that e-cigarettes are just as harmful to health as tobacco is.

"This is a not the case - we know from current evidence that vaping carries less risks than smoking tobacco. So it would be a good thing if smokers used e-cigarettes instead of smoking tobacco.

"To be absolutely clear, e-cigarettes are useful for public health and health service purposes only as a potential route towards stopping smoking completely. Access to e-cigarettes needs to be controlled carefully; they are not products for children or non-smokers."

"It would be a good thing if smokers used e-cigarettes instead of smoking tobacco"
Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science at NHS Health Scotland

Linda Bauld, professor of health Policy at the University of Stirling and CRUK BUPA chair in behavioural research for cancer prevention, said using e-cigarettes alongside tobacco had no health benefits.

She said: "It is good to see NHS Health Scotland and partners making it clear that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco.

"We also need to get the point across to people that, based on what we know to date, that dual use (using e-cigarettes without stopping smoking) is still bad for your health. So we would strongly encourage anyone who is using both to stop smoking tobacco as soon as they can."

"We would strongly encourage anyone who is using both to stop smoking tobacco as soon as they can."
Linda Bauld, CRUK BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, warned that the long-term health effects of vaping were not yet known.

But she said "we can be confident" that smokers switching entirely to e-cigarettes will be taking less of a risk.

She said: "This statement brings some clarity to an issue which has caused confusion. There is now agreement that vaping e-cigarettes carries less risk than smoking tobacco.

"Although we still don't know the long-term health effects of vaping, we can be confident that any smoker switching entirely to e-cigarettes will be taking in far fewer cancer-causing chemicals.

"Tobacco is lethal and I'd encourage anyone who smokes to find a way of quitting that works for them, which could include using e-cigarettes, and to make use of the free NHS stop-smoking support available to help."

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