NHS Busts Vape Myths

The National Health Service (NHS) is the latest public health body to address misunderstanding related to vapes and vaping by publishing a series of common myths and reasons why they are not true. The NHS is building on its position where it advises smokers to consider switching to vaping to drastically reduce their exposure to tobacco related harm.

Factual information about vaping from the NHS
The NHS first developed a dedicated section of its website to vaping where it listed out the facts about vaping for people thinking about using vapes to stop smoking.
It remains a basic but factual overview of ecigs, pointing out that “they’re far less harmful than cigarettes, and can help you quit smoking for good.”
Then, the NHS introduced its Better Health guide with a section dedicated to ‘Vaping to quit smoking’. In this section it covered topics such as how it can help, the relative safety of vapes compared to smoking cigarettes and other subjects in more detail than the original information page.

But, as factually based as this advice is, the NHS recognises there is a growing level of confusion about vaping “because there is lots of misleading information out there”. For this reason, it has decided to address nine of the most common misunderstandings, “based on scientific evidence and data.”

Myth 1: Vaping is just as harmful as smoking
The NHS says that although not risk-free, vaping is “substantially less harmful than smoking” and quotes UK experts stating that, at most, the use of electronic cigarettes carries “a small fraction of the risks of smoking”.
The charity Action on Smoking and Health has put numbers to this: 76,000 people die in the UK each year from smoking whereas only five deaths over twelve years have been linked to vaping. In addition, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says that it can’t be demonstrated that vaping actually caused those five deaths as the 2 cardiac and 3 respiratory cases could have been caused by previous smoking history or other lifestyle choice.
So, 380,000 smoking deaths compared to at most 5 possibly linked to vaping.

Myth 2: Nicotine is very harmful to health
According to the NHS, the truth may not be well understood but it is simple: “Nicotine does not cause cancer, lung disease, heart disease or stroke and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking.”
The problem is that nicotine has had a bad press for decades due to its presence in cigarette smoke, but the NHS is clear that it’s the presence of the other chemicals found in tobacco smoke that cause smoking-related harm.
The New Nicotine Alliance consumer charity agrees: “There is little doubt that smoking causes cancer, however nicotine is not the culprit. It is the products of combustion which cause cancer in smokers.”

Cancer Research UK has made a similar statement too.
“Nicotine by itself is fairly harmless,” says the Royal Society for Public Health, and is “no more harmful to health than caffeine”.

Myth 3: Vaping does not help people quit smoking
The NHS clearly states that the independent evidence on vaping shows that it is, “one of the most effective stop smoking aids”.
Gold standard research has demonstrated that vapes are up to three times more successful than traditional nicotine replacement products at helping smokers quit tobacco use.

Myth 4: Switching to a vape is just swapping one harmful addiction for another
The New Nicotine Alliance advocates that people should be able to choose to use nicotine products in the same way that people choose to drink coffee, saying “Many people choose vaping over smoking because it is more pleasurable, and the wide choice of devices and liquids means that they can tailor their vaping to suit their individual needs and wishes.”
The NHS points out (again) that vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking – but also offers a key benefit: “When you are ready and feel sure you won’t go back to smoking, you can gradually reduce the nicotine strength in your e-liquid and your vaping frequency until you have stopped fully and are nicotine-free.”
It is this ability to fine tune the amount of nicotine being used that is credited as one of the reasons why vapes are so useful during quit smoking attempts; they can deliver enough nicotine to help the initial switch, but research also suggests that it is not as addictive when in vape.

Myth 5: People use vapes more frequently than cigarettes – that must be worse
The NHS points out that less nicotine is absorbed by the body when vaping than smoking and takes longer to get to the receptors in the brain. In fact, people automatically adjust how frequently they vape without giving it any thought, it is called self-titration.
The NHS states: “It is normal to vape more frequently than you used to smoke, and this is not more harmful”, and continues, “It’s important to use your vape as much as you need to help you stop smoking and stay quit.”

Myth 6: Vapes are not regulated and we do not know what’s in them
The NHS states that vapes are “tightly regulated” in the UK and all legal products must be registered with the MHRA.
“Always buy your vaping products from a reputable supplier,” the NHS says.

Myth 7: Vaping causes ‘popcorn lung’
Popcorn lung, otherwise known as bronchiolitis obliterans, is caused by a chemical called diacetyl.
“Vaping does not cause ‘popcorn lung’,” says the NHS.
“Diacetyl is banned in e-liquids in the UK under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. Therefore, using a UK-regulated vaping product and e-liquids will not cause ‘popcorn lung’,” explains Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Myth 8: Exposure to vape aerosol is harmful to people around you
While a growing number of people are complaining about vape, more so since direct-to-lung cloud chasing style vapes were created, the NHS points out that research to date has found “there is no evidence so far that vaping is harmful to people around you.”
It does add that vapers should act in a responsible and considerate manner, avoiding vaping near babies, children or people with health conditions like asthma.

Myth 9: A disposable vape can deliver as much nicotine as 40 or 50 cigarettes
This is a popular myth spread by newspapers. Action on Smoking and Health cite ones by The Times, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and Cosmopolitan.
“This claim is not true,” the anti-smoking charity says.
The NHS explains: “A UK-regulated disposable vape with the highest legal nicotine level (20mg/ml) contains 2ml of liquid and 40mg of nicotine. This delivers, on average, about 20mg of nicotine to the user. A pack of 20 cigarettes contains 200 to 300mg of nicotine. This delivers, on average, 20 to 30mg of nicotine to the smoker.”
You can read the full myth busting information here: Vaping myths and the facts by the National Health Service.