Anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health is on a roll with giving out information on vaping. Recently, it has given out advice to parents and updated its findings about vaping in Great Britain. In its latest document, it has issued advice and guidance to Designated Safeguarding Leads, PSHE leads and other interested education professionals in developing school policies for electronic cigarettes. It goes to pains to point out that the biggest danger is “the far greater risk from smoking”.
Action on Smoking and Health begins by repeating the phrase being used across all public health bodies in relation to electronic cigarettes: “if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.”
The upside though is that school staff are immediately told that, “most children who try vaping, have also tried smoking, and vaping is far less harmful than smoking, which kills up to two thirds of smokers.”
The importance of that statement can’t be underestimated because previously Action on Smoking and Health have taken a very prohibitionist stance on vaping and called for flavours and certain types of packaging to be banned.
The current craze sweeping around the world is to take extreme action against pupils caught using vape products, but Action on Smoking and Health says, “children should not be excluded from school for vaping or smoking”.
Action on Smoking and Health points people to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines and materials designed by the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
It warns off relying on material produced by the US ‘Real Cost’ campaign as it is biased and doesn’t highlight the reduced harm of vaping when compared to smoking. Research has shown that the ‘Real Cost’ campaign actually led to young people believing it was better to smoke than vape.
As we recently covered, the Talk to Frank advisory service has also begun including information about electronic cigarette use for young people and Action on Smoking and Health also directs educational policy makers to that.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “The new vaping guidance … is designed as a guide to empower schools with the information they need to develop their policies. A whole school approach is needed to address both smoking and vaping, making it part of the curriculum, highlighting the risks, and arming children with the facts so that they can make informed choices.”
She added the important caveat that “it’s important to remember that the harms to health are significantly greater from smoking.”Assistant Director of Education Diane Buckle called the advice “very reassuring” and said the evidence-based approach is just what’s needed.
Along with Action on Smoking and Health’s explanation of vaping laws and its document busting myths about e-cig use, this is another welcome addition that will be helpful to policy formers and cements electronic cigarette use as the United Kingdom’s leading tool to combat tobacco related harm.