We welcomes Public Health England’s (PHE) new report ‘E-cigarettes: a new foundation for evidence based policy and practice’. The report, providing an up to date review of the evidence, follows our calls last week for greater use of e-cigarettes by smokers wishing to quit and in smoking cessation services.

PHE’s report adds to the increasing evidence that e-cigarettes are a safe and effective means by which to give up smoking. We hope that this clear guidance from PHE will encourage further uptake by smoking cessation services to embrace e-cigarettes as another tool in the box to support smokers to quit cigarettes.

In this report, PHE estimates that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco.  However, the report also raises concerns that nearly half of the population (44.8%) do not realise that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking. The evidence review also finds that there is currently no evidence to support concerns about a ‘gateway’ effect for children and non-smokers from e-cigarette use into tobacco smoking.

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive RSPH said: “Current evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are up to 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. By encouraging smokers, who are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes, onto less harmful sources of nicotine this measure could make a significant dent in the number of smokers, potentially avoiding many of the 100,000 needless smoking related deaths in the UK every year and hammer another nail in the coffin for cigarette smoking. While the public health community would prefer for no one be addicted to a substance such as nicotine, harm-reduction should be a priority. It is increasingly apparent that e-cigarettes can help people to quit smoking tobacco and we hope that this becomes more widely recognised by smokers. This further adds to the evidence-base around e-cigarettes and should hopefully encourage a less hostile view of safer forms of nicotine as an aid to help smokers quit.”