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Canadian Vaping Association: Progressive vaping policy positions the UK as the global leader for a smoke-free society

The Canadian Vaping Association
·4 min read

Beamsville, ON, Feb. 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today’s release by Public Health England (PHE), “Vaping better than nicotine replacement therapy for stopping smoking, evidence suggests,” highlights the disparity in relative risk messaging and government support between Canada and the UK. The UK is a leader in vaping research and progressive policy to support tobacco harm reduction. According to today’s release, the UK will also lead the world in creating a smoke-free society.

“The goal for 2030 is to be smokefree in England. The development of a new Tobacco Control Plan and this year’s review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 is an opportunity to ensure that the regulations around vaping are appropriate. The regulations are also hoped to help smokers to quit, while not attracting people who have never smoked,” stated PHE.

A smoke-free goal of 2030 is a stark contrast to Canada’s current goal of reducing smoking rates to 5% by 2035. While the UK’s target is ambitious, it is routed in science and the mounting evidence that concludes vaping is a far more effective quit aid than the leading NRT products. Highlighted in PHE’s release is the data gathered by researchers at King’s College London, finding that:

  • It is estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers (in England) stopped smoking with the aid of a vaping product who would otherwise have carried on smoking

  • Using a vaping product as part of a quit attempt in local stop smoking services had some of the highest quit success rates – between 59.7% and 74% in 2019 and 2020.

Despite this positive data, PHE also expressed concerns around the increasing misperceptions of the relative risk caused by vaping products, compared to smoking. Researchers at King’s College London found that in 2020, 38% of smokers believed that vaping is as harmful as smoking and 15% believed that vaping was more harmful than smoking. These misperceptions largely stem from sensationalist media reporting and are further compounded by minimal government support for vaping in North America. This polling data makes it clear that together these factors have lead to global health consequences.

This spill over effect from North America, has on numerous occasions, prompted Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE, to make consumer confidence statements such as:

  • “Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease – killing almost 75,000 people in England in 2019. The best thing that a smoker can do is to stop smoking completely and the evidence shows that vaping is one of the most effective quit aids available, helping around 50,000 smokers quit a year.”

  • “Thousands more could have quit except for unfounded safety fears about e-cigarettes. The evidence has been clear for some time that, while not risk-free vaping is far less harmful than smoking.”

  • “For anyone who smokes, particularly those who have already tried other methods, we strongly recommend they try vaping and stop smoking.”

Although Health Canada does state that vaping is less harmful than smoking, actions like the consideration of flavour restrictions display the government’s indifference to vaping as a harm reduction opportunity. This combined with the absence of relative risk statements and harm reduction campaigns for smokers, has left many Canadian consumers with low product confidence.

“Canada has reached a cross-road, the decisions made by Health Canada in the coming months will have a drastic impact on Canadian smoking rates and public health. Canada must quickly embrace vaping as the tremendous harm reduction tool that it is, or adult smokers will be left behind by regressive policy. The science has caught up with vaping, we now know conclusively that vaping is an effective quit aid and has general short term health improvements for smokers that completely switch to vaping. When used as intended, vaping is a powerful tool for smoking cessation and the betterment of public health. If Canada does not come to embrace all forms of harm reduction, our public health goals will soon be surpassed by countries will more progressive policy, leaving Canadians behind,” said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of the Canadian Vaping Association.

CONTACT: Darryl Tempest The Canadian Vaping Association 6472741867 dtempest@thecva.org