An independent review of recent scientific literature on e-cigarette use has concluded that the devices are around 95% less dangerous than smoking combustible tobacco products.
A girl using an e-cigarette.
Despite this finding, the reviewers also state that around 44.8% of people are unaware that using e-cigarettes – also referred to as “vaping” – is less harmful than traditional smoking.
The review was commissioned by Public Health England, an agency of the UK’s Department of Health, and was led by Prof. Ann McNeill of King’s College London and Prof. Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University of London.
According to their findings, e-cigarettes appear to be contributing toward falling rates of smoking among both adults and young people.
“There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are undermining England’s falling smoking rates,” states Prof. McNeill. “Instead the evidence consistently finds that e-cigarettes are another tool for stopping smoking, and in my view, smokers should try vaping and vapers should stop smoking entirely.”
The researchers found that nearly all of the 2.6 million adults in Great Britain who report using e-cigarettes are either current smokers or ex-smokers, using the devices to help them stop smoking or prevent them from picking up the habit again.
Less than 1% of adults and young people who have never smoked are regular e-cigarette users. The researchers state that the evidence suggests e-cigarettes attract few people who have never smoked into regular use.
The review draws attention to recent worldwide media headlines asserting that e-cigarette use is dangerous. After analyzing these reports, the researchers concluded that they were based on misinterpreted research findings.
“While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals that are present pose limited danger,” they write.