Royal College of Physicians in Britain: Vaping Safer than Smoking

In a significant development, the Royal College of Physicians in Britain has stated that vaping is safer than smoking, a fact that the vaping community has been advocating for years. The College is now encouraging smokers to use e-cigarettes, endorsing them as a safer method for nicotine delivery.

The Report’s Findings

The report, titled “Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction,” is based on expert opinion and concludes that the hazards to health from inhaling e-cigarette vapours are likely less than the harms from smoking tobacco. The authors argue that people smoke because they are addicted to nicotine but are harmed by the tar and cancer-causing chemicals. They call smoking the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability and social inequalities in health in the U.K.

The Question of Young People and Vaping

The British group stated that there hasn’t been “demonstrated evidence of significant progression into smoking among young people.” This statement challenges the ‘gateway’ idea often used by many governments as a reason to ban or restrict e-cigarettes and vaping.

The Global Market for Vaping Products

The global market for “vaping” products was estimated at around $7 billion US in 2015. Tobacco smoking kills half of all smokers, plus at least another 600,000 people a year non-smokers through second-hand smoke. This makes it the world’s biggest preventable killer, with a predicted death toll of a billion by the end of the century, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Regulation of E-cigarettes in Canada

E-cigarettes with nicotine have not been approved for sale by Health Canada but are readily available. Many provinces ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors. The Canadian Cancer Society says seven provinces (B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, N.S. and P.E.I.) have adopted legislation to regulate e-cigarettes by banning sales to minors, prohibiting e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces where smoking is banned, restricting advertising and promotion and other measures.

The Ideal Scenario

Linda Bauld, a professor at Stirling University, deputy director of the U.K. Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and a co-author of the RCP report, stated, “The ideal is for people to use nothing. But when the alternative is smoking, people should be encouraged to use nicotine delivered in a cleaner form than in deadly cigarettes.”

The Anti-smoking Group ASH UK’s Response

The anti-smoking group ASH UK welcomed the report, saying it showed “that switching to vaping is a positive and sensible life choice” for smokers. “Electronic cigarette vapour does not contain smoke, which is why vaping is much less harmful,” said Deborah Arnott, ASH’s chief executive.