Vaping, as an alternative to smoking, is being encouraged by Bristol City Council this week as they take to the streets hoping to convert people to the tobacco alternative.
They will be tackling the issues caused by carbon monoxide in the body – a substance found in cigarettes but not e-cigarettes.
Councillor Fi Hance, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods with responsibility for Public Health, said: “Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death in England, so I’d encourage smokers to try anything they can to quit. The advice from Public Health is that for people who are long-term smokers, e-cigarettes are a much better option than smoking tobacco – and they can be an effective quitting tool. E-cigarettes stills provide nicotine, which is what people smoke for, but without the damaging tar, toxic substances and carbon monoxide which cause the serious health problems.
“As a former smoker I know how difficult it can be to give up, but I’m so glad I did. As a council we’re absolutely committed to helping people stop – there’s really no better time to quit than today.”
A team from the council will be in four e-cigarette shops in the city centre on National Stop Smoking Day offering people the chance to have a carbon monoxide tests to see how levels in the body differ between smokers, and those who prefer vaping.
Marcus Munafò, Professor of Biological Psychology at Bristol University and an expert in the field of e-cigarettes, said: “Like many things in life e-cigarettes are not totally risk-free, but compared to smoking they cause a fraction of the harm. If smokers can switch to vaping that’s a good thing – and people should try to switch completely rather than smoke and vape. Many people don’t realise that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking or aren’t sure – and that is something we need to address.”
However, in nearby Cardiff the government are trying to ban e-cigarettes from all public places. But it has been hit with criticism as many health organisations have acknowledged vaping can help people to quit and there are very few examples of non-smokers taking to e-cigarettes.
While they still contain nicotine – the addictive part of a cigarette – they are missing many other dangerous chemicals including carbon monoxide.
In Bristol, 21.3 per cent of people smoke, and although the council acknowledges stop smoking services are still the most effective way for people to quit, e-cigarettes can reduce harm and help people make the shift away from smoking tobacco.
Smokers can triple their chances of success by using an e-cigarette combined with attending their local support to stop smoking service.
Inner city and east Bristol stop smoking teams are able to provide services in Somali, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Polish, Romanian and Bangladeshi.
It is estimated that 2.6 million people in the UK were using e-cigarettes in 2015. For more details of how to access your local stop smoking service, visit www.smokefreebristol.com.
Stop Smoking Day is on March 9.
E-cig myths: Busted
Encouraging the use of e-cigs may normalise smoking again:
Smoking tobacco in enclosed public spaces is illegal, and using e-cigarettes will not change this law. Also, most of the popular e-cigarettes don’t look a lot like tobacco products so the risk of people confusing them is likely to be low. Smoking rates across England are falling and there’s no evidence that e-cigarettes are undermining this.
Vaping might be a route into smoking for non-smokers or children:
There’s no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers, according to a recent review by Public Health England. Over 99% of the vaping youth are already tobacco smokers. Public Health England found that e-cigarettes may be contributing to the falling smoking rates among children and young people.
E-cigs can be as damaging to your airwaves as smoking a normal cigarette:
Vapour from e-cigarettes does not contain the tars, carbon monoxide and cancer-causing poisons found in tobacco smoke. The myth arose because some people have had a reaction to some of the flavourings added to the vaping liquid. Vaping is thought to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. There are detectable levels of harmful chemicals in e-cigarette vapour, but these are often at very low levels and it’s not clear they are actually harmful at those levels.
E-cigs are dangerous and often blow up:
Incidents involving e-cigarettes are very rare. The vast majority occur when the e-cigarette product is charging. Cheap chargers have been highlighted by the Trading Standards Institute as a potential fire hazard. Few injuries have been caused by defective e-cigarettes, but it is sensible to buy e-cigarettes and chargers from a good supplier, avoiding the cheapest unbranded products, and using the correct charger for the product.