‘Vaping should be part of support’ to help smokers with mental health conditions quit

A group of health bodies and charities has called for more to be done to help smokers with mental health conditions quit, including accessing e-cigarettes and other treatments.

In its Statement on Electronic Cigarettes(link is external), the Mental Health & Smoking Partnership said that smoking remains “part of the culture in too many mental health settings”, and that vaping and nicotine replacement therapies should be made an easier choice than smoking.

“E-cigarettes offer another opportunity for smokers with mental health conditions that haven’t been able to stop using other methods.” – Alyssa Best, Cancer Research UK

Professor Ann McNeill, co-chair of the partnership(link is external), said that people with a mental health condition are more than twice as likely to smoke as the general population.

“This is a great inequality leading to early death and years of chronic illness for many,” she said. “E-cigarettes provide a new opportunity for people to move away from smoking and avoid the terrible burden of death and disease it causes.”

Smoking rates in people with mental health conditions have barely changed in the last 20 years, despite a steady decline in the rest of the population, said the statement.

It adds that on average people with mental health conditions die significantly earlier than the general population, with smoking likely contributing to this difference.

The partnership states that while there are many different mental health conditions, high smoking rates are a common trend among those affected.

Around 16% of adults in the general UK population smoke. But this can be as high as 70% on psychiatric units(link is external).

The partnership aims to reduce smoking rates among people with a mental health condition to 5% by 2035.

Alyssa Best, Cancer Research UK’s policy adviser, said the Government has committed to tackling the extremely high smoking rates among people with mental health conditions in the Tobacco Control Plan for England.

“E-cigarettes offer another opportunity for smokers with mental health conditions that haven’t been able to stop using other methods. They should be offered as a legitimate method of quitting across all mental health settings,” she said.

The evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes are far safer than smoking, but policies on the devices are inconsistent across mental health settings.

McNeill said the statement aimed to address some of the widespread misunderstandings about e-cigarettes, and hoped it will support mental health staff and organisations in thinking about how they can encourage more of their service users to quit smoking.

Lesley Colley, from the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said that e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies contributed to the trust cutting smoking rates from 43% to 28% since March 2016.

“Service users overwhelmingly requested the option to use electronic cigarettes during an in-patient stay and the trust supported this by offering free disposable electronic cigarettes on admission.

Smokers should switch to vaping: experts

Australian lives could be saved if smokers are encouraged to switch to vapes or e-cigarettes, leading health experts say.

Health professionals gathered in Melbourne on Monday to hear how the smoke-free technology could help smokers move away from deadly cigarettes.

“For those smokers who won’t or can’t quit, the next best thing would be to switch to vaping,” Queen Mary University professor Hayden McRobbie told AAP.

He says it may not save the Australian government’s health budget in the long term – as non-smokers live longer – but it has the potential to save lives.

E-cigarettes or vapes can still contain nicotine, which is addictive, but they do not burn or emit toxic smoke into the lungs, Prof McRobbie said.

Nicotine for vapes is not legally allowed to be sold in Australia, but some vapers import it from overseas.

University of New South Wales professor Colin Mendelsohn said vapes containing nicotine and mimicking the sensory aspects of smoking allowed users to replicate the experience without the toxic fumes.

“The sooner these products are legalised in Australia, the more lives will be saved,” Prof Mendelsohn told AAP.

New Zealand is planning to legalise the sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes in order to regulate them as consumer products from mid-2018.

“While the long-term risks are not entirely clear, there is broad consensus now that they are much less harmful than tobacco cigarettes,” Prof McRobbie said.

“This (vaping) might offer another option to get to a smoke-free life.

“You do want policy measures encouraging people to move away from traditional smoking and you want to protect those that don’t smoke, like young people.”

Both professors have run studies into the benefits of e-cigarettes, confirming they get no money from the tobacco or e-cigarette industries.

The pair are in Melbourne as part of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference, where Prof McRobbie gave a keynote speech.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/11/13/smokers-should-switch-vaping-experts

UK Gov. urged to launch a year round vaping campaign

Stoptober, is organized by National Health Service (NHS) UK and is a campaign that encourages smokers to quit cigarettes for the month of October, with the hope that this will encourage them to stop smoking for good. The campaign offers a number of suggestions to smokers wishing to quit, and highly recommends the combination of behavioral support and the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs).

Preliminary figures seem to suggest that this year’s campaign was a success in encouraging many smokers to transition to vaping. A number of studies have indicated that besides being significantly safer than regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are smokers’ preferred smoking cessation tools. This is due to the fact that the hand to mouth motion required to vape, closely imitates the action of smoking, making the transition from smoking to not-smoking a smoother one for addicts.

Hence, tomorrow on Wednesday the 1st of November, Vice-Chair of the APPG, Gareth Johnson, is leading a debate pertaining to the topic in the House of Commons, urging lawmakers to take advantage of the success of Stoptober and launch a year round campaign to keep promoting vaping as a smoking cessation or harm reduction tool.

Below is the official statement by the APPG:

Parliamentarians call on Government to keep promoting the health benefits of vaping in the wake of Public Health England’s successful advertising campaign

A group of MPs and Peers have today (Wednesday 1st November) urged the government to build upon Public Health England’s (PHE) Stoptober anti-smoking campaign, which was the first of its kind to encourage the use of vaping as a means to quit smoking.

In its report “The State of the Vaping Nation” the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on E-Cigarettes has called upon the government and public health bodies to sustain and capitalise on the level of public engagement with vaping seen during Stoptober by launching a continuous programme to keep promoting and accurately communicating the positive public health evidence for vaping.

Following the PHE campaign, which emerged from the government’s commitment in its recently published Tobacco Control Plan to back the promotion of the positive public health opportunity of vaping, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), the largest trade body representing the sector, has reported that its members have experienced significant increase in sales during Stoptober.

In particular, the APPG has seen evidence from the UKVIA that there has been a considerable rise in starter-kit sales this Stoptober, suggesting a significant increase in those smokers trying vaping for the first time.

Watford-based Vape Club, the UK’s largest online vape e-liquid shop and JAC Vapour, a leading retailer, wholesaler and producer of vaping products, have experienced increases in starter kit sales by 37% and 65% year on year respectively.

Edinburgh based Vaporized, the UK’s largest vape retail chain, added 3 more stores to its now 106 store portfolio and experienced a 40% year on year rise in sales this October.

Mark Pawsey MP, Chairman of the APPG on E-Cigarettes, said: “The positive public health message regarding vaping has up to now been failing to get across to the UK’s remaining 7.6 million smokers. The Public Health England campaign was a welcome change and has had an obvious effect, but it needs to be sustained, not just a one off.

“That’s why today we are calling upon the government to ensure such campaigns become the norm, not an exception, so that the UK can fully exploit the public health potential of vaping.

“Without these campaigns the current mixed messages surrounding vaping will continue and create a confusing picture.”

Doug Mutter, a board member at the UKVIA, added: “when our own esteemed health bodies already recognise vaping as being at least 95% less harmful than smoking, why are we preventing people from making the switch by banning most advertising? Why does the industry have more strict packaging guidelines than bleach?”

The report also highlights a worrying trend in the public perception of vaping as an alternative to smoking, with only 20% of people correctly identifying that vaping is “a lot less harmful” than smoking, compared to 31% in 2015.

In addition, the number of adults who believe that vaping products are “as harmful”, or “more harmful” than smoking has nearly quadrupled from 2013 to 2017 from 7% to 26%.

Louise Ross, Stop Smoking Service Manager for Leicester City Council, the first Stop Smoking Service to go e-cigarette friendly, said: “we are concerned that aspects of the Tobacco Products Directive work against helping people to stop smoking, by making life for vapers more difficult…and by preventing positive messages being shared among those who have been frightened off vaping by a hostile propaganda war.”

The parliamentarians believe misinformation is actively preventing smokers from making the decision to switch; the number of UK vapers increased by just 4% from 2016 to 2017, compared to 86% in 2013, 62% in 2014, and 24% in 2015.

The APPG on E-Cigarettes report also recommends:

  • An urgent review by the Government of vaping regulation as per its commitment in the Tobacco Control Plan, particularly the disproportionate elements of Article 20 of the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that effectively puts vaping in the same bracket as smoking;
  • That the Government adopts a wider collaborative approach to policy creation in this area which involves all stakeholders including regulators, the scientific community, public health and the vaping industry;
  • That Trading Standards ensures that current vaping regulations, particularly relating to product standards within the TPD, are consistently and vigorously enforced as the vaping industry has invested £6m in conforming to them;
  • That the Government reviews and considers steps taken by the devolved authorities in Scotland and Wales to develop the enforcement powers of regulators.

Source: https://www.vapingpost.com/2017/10/31/uk-gov-urged-to-launch-a-year-round-vaping-campaign/

Scientists Weigh In – Secondhand Vapor Is Not Harmful

Although vaping has been around since 2004, the real uptick in vapers only happened several years ago, when the industry ironed out the kinks and presented casual users with a wide variety of easy-to-use vaping devices. Since then, the vaping community has been under constant attacks from vaping opponents, most of which are able to secure serious coverage by the mainstream media.

One of the more debated issues is the supposed danger of secondhand vaping. Similarly to smokers, vapers have been accused of polluting the air around them and exposing others (mainly children and young adults) to the dangers of secondhand vapor. One small, but widely quoted study, even went as far as to suggest that vaping seriously impairs indoor air quality by depositing particles of harmful substances.

However, is that really the case?

Vaping is not smoking and vapor is not cigarette smoke, which contains over 4000 chemical compounds, 69 of which are carcinogenic. In essence, e-liquid (substance vaporized by vape pens and other vaping devices) contains only several ingredients which, under normal vaping practices, produce no harmful substances.

At least, that’s what prominent and peer-reviewed scientific research tells us.

Evidence Points Toward Vaping Not Impairing Indoor Air Quality

The above-mentioned study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health in 2014 concludes that e-cigarette usage in a thoroughly ventilated room contributed to a 20% increase polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a 2.4-fold increase in aluminum, and a substantial increase in other pollutants.

Sounds scary, right?

However, the abstract of the study also tells us that the tested sample was small – nine volunteers with six vape sessions each, which is hardly a sample at all. Moreover, we have no idea about the methodology used. What type of devices were they vaping on? Nicotine concentrations? What was their vaping method and did they engage in so-called ‘dry puff’ vaping (intentionally overheating the liquid to get condemning results, a practice that has been discredited by scientists because it doesn’t mirror real use scenarios, but is still used by some researchers)?

We have no idea, so it’s pretty difficult to find this study credible or conclusive, by any stretch of the imagination.

On the other hand, a recent study published in the Public Library of Science came up with drastically different conclusions. The study focused on more than 300 homes in the San Diego area and its purpose was to examine air quality of households where there was evidence of indoor smoking and vaping and compare it with the air quality of households that were smoke and vapor-free. Scientist installed monitoring equipment in all the households and the data was transmitted to them for analysis. There were 43 homes that reported indoor vaping and the data showed no detectable increase in air pollution.

Here’s what the researchers had to say about vaping and air quality impairment: “We observed no apparent difference in the weekly mean particle distribution between 43 homes reporting any electronic cigarette usage and those reporting none.”

In essence – vaping indoors is same as not vaping indoors. Your air quality will not change and you’re most certainly not putting anyone at risk.

Bystanders Don’t Need to Be Concerned About Secondhand Vaping Because It’s a Non-Issue, According to Scientists

Secondhand vapor is not dangerous to non-vaping bystanders. In fact, there’s no proof that it’s even dangerous to vapers. There are numerous studies that failed to find a connection between adverse health effects and vaping aerosol (incorrectly referred to as ‘vape smoke’ by vaping detractors), which is how vapor is technically referred to by scientists. A widely cited study by Public Health England from 2015 actually concluded that vaping is approximately 95% safer than smoking, and its authors encouraged the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.

There are several other studies that dealt predominantly with secondhand vaping, all of which have concluded that vaping is not dangerous to non-vapers. Igor Burstyn from Drexel University took a most thorough look at passive vaping. His literature review titled Peering Through The Mist examined over 9,000 observations on vape aerosol, which he found through PubMed search.

Essentially, Burstyn took the same guidelines that are used to ensure workplace air quality and safety and assumed that innocent bystanders are unwilling to assume any risk from passive vaping whatsoever. He then examined particulate matter that’s produced by vaping and concluded the following: “Current state of knowledge about chemistry of liquids and aerosols associated with electronic cigarettes indicates that there is no evidence that vaping produces inhalable exposures to contaminants of the aerosol that would warrant health concerns by the standards that are used to ensure safety of workplaces”.

In translation?

Vaping would get a green light from agencies that are tasked with ensuring workplace air quality. That means that there’s absolutely no risk to anyone who’s standing in a room in which someone else is vaping.

The UK’s Royal College of Physicians came to the same conclusion. Their ‘Nicotine Without Smoke’ study completely dismisses the question ‘vape smoke’, correctly realizing that it’s a non-issue. Researchers even say that the biggest concern in this respect is passive exposure to nicotine but point out that “nicotine from exhaled vapour can be deposited on surfaces, but at such low levels that there is no plausible mechanism by which such deposits could enter the body at doses that would cause physical harm.” The previously mentioned Public Health England study quantified that nicotine exposure by noting that it’s 169 times lower than that of smoking, and that, as such, it poses no real danger.

Vape detractors will also mention VOCs (volatile organic compounds) frequently, saying that e-cigs create them and noting their carcinogenic properties. In fact, a 2015 study conducted by the Spanish Council of Scientific Research compared vape aerosol and cigarette smoke, specifically searching for 156 VOCs. They found none in vape aerosol. Vaping champion, Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos commented on the research, saying that it proves that there are more VOCs in normally expelled lung air than in vapor produced by e-cigarettes.

Why Are We Still Debating Secondhand Vapor?

Indeed, that’s the real question.

The assumption among vape proponents is that there’s still fear that vaping can lead to smoking. That’s the only logical reason why there would be so much bad and misleading information about secondhand vapor coming from certain ‘reputable’ scientists. They fear that vaping could lead to ‘renormalization’ of smoking.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Vaping should be seen as a highly successful method of smoking cessation and further attempts to demonize it will only lead to fewer people deciding to go that route. If that comes to pass, it will be guilty of doing a great disservice to public health.