Public England Health, an agency of the UK’s Department of Health, said in a report that vaping is about 95% less harmful than smoking, according to their latest best estimate.
"While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals which are present pose limited danger," according to the report, which notes that over the last year public perceptions of electronic cigarettes have shifted to become more negative. Many people have come to believe that electronic cigarettes are at least as dangerous as traditional cigarettes. This perception, according to PEH, was based on misinterpreted research findings.
The report notes that vaping is most common among people who already smoke, and that “low numbers of non-smokers” ever vape. This context is often lost in the discussions around vaping, as some in the public health community see vaping as a positive alternative to smokers who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes not a 'gateway drug'
But there will no doubt be plenty of backlash to this latest report, which comes on the heels of news from the American Medical Association that American high school students who vape are more likely to have tried cigarettes as well. While there was a correlation, the study didn’t prove that e-cigarettes were a 'gateway drug' to smoking as many would like to claim.
"It just shows that [teenagers] who are attracted to e-cigarettes are the same people who are attracted to smoking," Hajek, one of the authors of the PEH study told The Guardian. "People who drink white wine are more likely to try red wine than people who do not drink alcohol."
The anti-tobacco wing of the public health community has traditionally been very uncomfortable with harm reduction, especially in the United States. The British public health service, which has a vested interest in keeping people more healthy to drive down the cost of their single-payer system, is at least helping change that discussion to one that includes vaping.
Azarius loves vaping!
Vaporizers far less harmful than joints
Though the report concerns e-cigarettes and not vaporizers, we at Azarius like to think the same conclusion applies to people who stop smoking joints and start using a vaporizer to vape their cannabis (or other herbs) instead.