We are soon seeing the end of Public Health England (PHE), with a rebrand to the ‘National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP)’. For now, all the talk is about the Coronavirus pandemic, which is a large reason for the change in direction. However, that hasn’t stopped the current government agency, whose mission is a responsibility to ‘protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities’ from releasing their latest findings on e-cigarettes in 2021. This is the seventh update about vaping, dating back to 2015 with the now-famous report in the industry highlighting its importance in the fight against tobacco. Will we see the end of Public Health England E-Cigarettes updates?
PHE has over the years focused on many areas of improving UK health, vaping has quickly become a much-debated topic. This is despite many medical experts understanding how it can reduce nicotine levels, leading thousands to stop smoking cigarettes. Plenty of respectable government agencies and health organisations have backed vaping as a cessation tool. But the jury is still out on its worth as a way to give up smoking, typically sensationalised as negative by the British and in particular US media.
What the seventh extensive report in 2021 by the PHE researchers and medical professionals highlights is vaping remains a gateway to prevent smoking and not a gateway that leads to smoking.
What Does the PHE 2021 Report Claim?
Due to the impact of Covid-19, the 2021 report didn’t have the same amount of research compared to previous years. Nevertheless, the results still proved it was worth the effort. For instance, like a nicotine replacement therapy, there is a much higher percentage of vaping products users. This is in comparison with other methods such as Varenicline, a medicine you take orally. In 2020, 27.2% of people used vape products such as pods, mods and vape pens to quit. Only 4.4% used Varenicline at the other end of the scale.
The 2021 study highlighted similarities between the past seven yearly updates from PHE. This essentially details the best method for quitting smoking – medicine and a vaping product together, one after the other. In most of the studies conducted, the researchers offered older vaping products and mainly tobacco e-liquids to understand the impact. The 2021 PHE report noted that:
- Further research is needed into the barriers and enablers to using vaping products as part of a supported quit attempt to stop smoking services.
- Local authorities should continue to fund and provide stop smoking services and all stop smoking services should have a consistent approach to the use of vaping products.
- Further research is needed to assess whether smokers who use stop smoking services and vaping products differ from smokers who use the services and other smoking cessation aids.
- More studies are needed which include newer types of vaping products that have better nicotine delivery.
How the Vaping Industry Can Continue to Evolve
Even in the 2017 report alone, more than 50,000 people in the UK stopped smoking thanks to vaping. With less nicotine, thanks to greater control via vaping, smokers have a fighting chance of ending their addiction. The research from the report also demonstrated how multiple Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) creates a better opportunity to remove tobacco. As we know, millions die each year from a variety of illnesses associated with tobacco combustion. For this reason, the UK has already set a target of 2030 to eradicate this issue.
Even though the PHE agency will cease to exist, it’s vital vaping receives positive media attention. Spreading the word about this increasingly used cessation tool is more important than ever. The UK needs continued Public Health England e-cigarettes reports to inform the general public about the benefits of vaping. Organisations such as the NHS, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation back this movement. Why shouldn’t the government continue to do so?
Hopefully, with Covid-19 showing promising signs of slowing down thanks to increased vaccinations, we will see an increase and not a decrease in research. The yearly reports highlight the importance of government-funded research to reduce smoking habits. We look forward to the 2022 report at Let’s Stop Smoking.