Smokers across Yorkshire are being urged to quit with the help of e-cigarettes as part of a campaign announced by Yorkshire Cancer Research today (Wednesday, March 14).
Launched to coincide with National No Smoking Day, the Vape to Quit campaign will also call for workplaces to go smoke-free by banning smoking on the premises and replacing smoking areas with designated vaping areas.
Healthcare professionals working in the region will be encouraged to support smokers who choose to quit by vaping.
Yorkshire Cancer Research is backing the latest evidence published by Public Health England in February, which states that vaping with e-cigarettes is at least 95% safer than smoking, and that e-cigarette vapour does not harm bystanders 1.
E-cigarettes are inhalable aerosols which heat a solution containing nicotine. While nicotine is highly addictive, it does not cause smoking-related diseases such as cancer 2,3. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, which produces harmful carcinogenic chemicals including tar and carbon monoxide when burned2,3.
E-cigarettes have become the most popular stop smoking aid1, and people who use them with the help of local stop smoking services are more likely to quit successfully 4.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We have reviewed the evidence and concluded that smokers should be encouraged to try vaping as a tool to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are not entirely risk-free, but when compared to tobacco cigarettes they are significantly safer – there is no question about it – and we know that they are effective in reducing smoking rates.
“E-cigarettes are still quite new, and their long-term impact needs more research. But half of all long-term smokers will die as a result of their smoking if they don’t quit. Action needs to be taken now. We can’t afford to wait while the health of hundreds of thousands of people across Yorkshire continues to be harmed from tobacco smoke.”
Smoking is the leading cause of early death in Yorkshire 5. The county has the highest smoking rate in England, with an estimated 750,000 smokers living in the region 6,7. Smoking is responsible for 16 different types of cancer, including 86% of lung cancers, 37% of bladder cancers and 23% of liver cancers 8.
More people in Yorkshire get lung cancer than any other cancer type 9. Incidence and mortality rates of most of the other smoking-related cancers are also higher than the national average.
There are currently about 250,000 e-cigarette users in the region. Studies suggest that 52% of users are ex-smokers and 45% are current smokers 10. In the UK, 1.5m vapers have stopped smoking completely, and a further 770,000 people have given up both smoking and vaping 11.
Due to the relative safety of e-cigarettes and their success in helping people quit, Yorkshire Cancer Research is calling for more support to be given to those who wish to vape. The charity is recommending that organisations follow Public Health England’s guidelines when creating e-cigarette policies, which advise that a clear distinction is made between vaping and smoking 12.
Dr Scott said: “E-cigarette use is not covered by UK smoke-free laws, which prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces. Vaping is a different activity to smoking, and should be treated as such. It is not acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space as smokers, or to ban e-cigarette use. This could undermine an attempt to quit or make it more difficult for people to stay smoke-free. Vaping should be made a more convenient, as well as a safer option.”
The charity will also be writing to healthcare workers at hospitals across the region to highlight the key differences between vaping and smoking.
Dr Scott added: “It is vital that healthcare professionals understand that vaping is an essential tool for improving the health of people living in our region. Negative coverage in the media has led to a misconception that vaping is dangerous, when the reality is that e-cigarettes have the potential to reduce the harm from tobacco caused to smokers, those around them and the wider society.”
For more information and to view Yorkshire Cancer Research’s full position statement on electronic cigarettes please visit www.ycr.org.uk/vapetoquit.
1. Public Health England, Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018, A report commissioned by Public Health England, web source 1
2. Royal College of Physicians, Nicotine without smoke, Tobacco harm reduction, A report by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, web source 2
3. National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, Electronic cigarettes: A briefing for stop smoking services, 2016, web source 3
4. NHS Digital, Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services, England, April 2016 to March 2017,web source 4
5. WHO, WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2017, web source 5
6. Public Health England, Public Health Profiles, Health Profiles, Adults’ health and lifestyle – “Smoking prevalence”, web source 6
7. Office for National Statistics, Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: Mid-2016, web source 7
8. Parkin, D.M., Boyd, L. and Walker, L.C. (2011). The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010, British Journal of Cancer, 105, pp. S1-S81
9. Cancer Data (2013-2015 rolling data) web source 9
10. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) 2017, Use of electronic cigarettes (vapourisers) among adults in Great Britain, web source 10
11. Office for National Statistics, Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2016, web source 11
12. Public Health England, Use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces, 2016, web source 12
Notes to Editors
- Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
- We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
- Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
- Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
- We aim to:
- Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
- Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
- Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
- Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
- Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
- For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter