According to ASH there are at least 2.9 million vapers in the UK, of whom 1.5 million have stopped smoking completely. The UK now has the second lowest smoking rates in the EU. This is excellent news and something everyone with a genuine interest in public health should be celebrating.
There are currently still around nine million smokers in the UK. In IBVTA's view smoking is a personal choice and no one should be forced to stop. At the same time, smokers should be given access to information about significantly less harmful alternatives products.
Vaping is the leading alternative product. Through independent research Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of Physicians have concluded that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. Other research has demonstrated that vaping carries less than one per cent of the risk when it comes to cancer.
Despite this good news the latest ASH/YouGov survey, this year found that the proportion of smokers who thought vaping was just as, or more harmful than smoking increased from nine per cent to 22 per cent.
It is the opinion of IBVTA that as a direct result of misinformation about vaping, including sensational and inaccurate press coverage or over interpreted studies, the public’s perception of the risks posed by vaping is being warped, deterring smokers from switching. This is not good news, and something that should be of concern to all those with a genuine interest in public health and choice.
At IBVTA, we believe that if awareness around vaping was increased more smokers would choose to switch. Our message to those in government and public health is that smokers and vapers need ‘action and not just words’. This is where our support for Stoptober comes in.
Historically, Stoptober has not had an overtly pro-vaping feel, so when PHE asked to partner with IBVTA and made clear that this year’s campaign would be explicitly supportive of vaping, we felt it was our duty to welcome PHE’s approach and to support them in supporting vaping.
We hope that the positive stance taken by PHE will go some way to reversing negative perceptions around vaping and encourage more smokers to visit good high street vape shops and make the switch.