Royal Society of Public Health: Vaping nicotine ‘no more harmful’ than caffeine

The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) is hoping to end much of the confusion between the real and imagined dangers of vaping tobacco-free, nicotine-enhanced e-liquids.  Comprised of over 6,500 public health officials from over 90 nations around the world, RSPH officials recently released an official statement last week clarifying the significant differences between tobacco and nicotine.  In short, the experts say that the naturally occurring substance of nicotine “no more harmful to health than caffeine.”

The statement also suggests that about 90% of the global community still mistakenly believe that nicotine consumption is just as deadly as smoking.  It further explains that while the smoking of combustible tobacco products results in the inhaling of nicotine and carcinogenic tars and chemicals, nicotine by itself is “fairly harmless.”  Therefore, the RSPH is encouraging adult smokers to “stop smoking using other sources of nicotine,” such as electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.

“Alarmingly RSPH research reveals that 90% of the public still regard nicotine itself as harmful and the organisation is now calling for measures to promote safer forms of nicotine products to smokers and make it harder to use tobacco. Among the measures which are being called for in its report: Stopping smoking by using other sources of nicotine.”

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The RSPH statement also estimates that approximately 100,000 people die every year from smoking-related illnesses just in the UK alone.  And while Great Britain and other countries have experienced dramatic declines in national smoking rates, about one in five Brits are still active, daily smokers. As a result, the RSPH is aggressively recommending that smokers around the globe switch to vaping as a smoking cessation tool.

"Getting people onto nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public’s health – clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine, but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction.”

But the UK-based public health agency does not stop there.  The RSPH also recommends that federal governments mandate the sales of e-cigarettes in all venues which also sell traditional tobacco products.  In short, the tendency for governments to intentionally or misguidedly liken smoking to vaping only escalates the nicotine-is-bad mythology even more, which further negatively affects overall public health on a global scale.

Recommended vaping regulations by the Royal Society of Public Health

RSPH officials apparently also have a problem with pubs, bars, schools, restaurants, and other establishments banning both smoking and vaping at the same time.  While the second-hand smoke from combustible cigarettes can still be carcinogenic to innocent bystanders, the vapor from electronic cigarettes is about 95% less harmful.  Below is a short list of additional RSPH recommendations for legislative officials in regards to vaping.

  • Government agencies should consider introducing smoke-free zones that do not prohibit vaping. In doing so, such establishments may witness an increase in business by as much as 50% by adult smokers choosing to vape instead.  The RSPH further estimates that as much as one-third of British smokers would likely make the switch to vaping permanently just so that they can vape in pubs, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.
  • Smoking cessation service agencies should be mandated to include electronic cigarettes as a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). Currently, only three out of a whopping 134 such stores in the UK offer e-cigs as an alternative to “the patch” and nicotine gums and lozenges.
  • Governments should mandate the sales of vaping devices and e-cigarettes in all stores which offer the sales of combustible tobacco products.
  • Special licensing for retailers of vapor products should also be introduced. Licensing can be pulled at any time that the overseeing regulatory agency identifies licensee violations, such as the selling to e-cigs to minors or the failure of compliance with advertising restrictions.
  • E-cigarettes should be renamed to “nicotine sticks or vapourisers to distance them from cigarettes.”

This last point is particularly interesting and perhaps all too long-in-coming.  Even many of the most ardent vaping enthusiasts have long believed that the naming of cigalike devices as electronic cigarettes was the global vaping industry’s most crucial mistake initially. The RSPH is perhaps the first major public health organization to openly acknowledge this error in judgment while simultaneously attempting to correct it in the interest of public health and vaping advocacy.

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(Image courtesy of Royal Society of Public Health)

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