Fact or Fiction? PHE Research Exposes Vaping Misconceptions

Although, sadly, it generated less fanfare in the media than it should have done, the release early this year of new, entirely independent findings by the official UK body Public Health England (PHE) on vaping, e-cigarette devices and e-liquids added to the already copious amount of research that’s proof vaping is by far in a way less harmful than smoking tobacco. Indeed, the PHE review addressed some significant beliefs (i.e. myths) around vaping – firmly putting them in their place…

Vaping gives you ‘popcorn lung’ – yes or no?

Owing to the fact the chemical diacetyl features in some of the flavourings in e-liquids and that major exposure to it may contribute to the risk of developing the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans, some have jumped to the conclusion that vaping can lead to what’s called ‘popcorn lung’ (so called because popcorn factory workers, who have been greatly exposed to diacetyl, have fallen victim to it). The likelihood of this happening to a vaper in the UK’s extremely low, though, as the chemical’s been banned in ejuice sold in this country.

E-cig devices aren’t regulated in the UK – yes or no?

This is nonsense. Compared to other countries around the world, the UK possesses some of the strongest e-cig and e-juice regulation. For instance, a manufacturer of any new product must notify the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of its existence and all its ingredients, while the EU’s Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (2016) ensure all vaping products in the UK must fulfil quality, safety, packaging and labelling standards.

Vaping’s bad for you because it contains nicotine – yes or no?

Strictly speaking, the answer to this is no. Yes, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical and, yes, it’s also included in conventional cigarette tobacco to ensure you keep coming back again for that ‘hit’. However, unlike e-liquids, tobacco is extremely harmful to your health and the reason for that isn’t because nicotine is harmful. It’s because of all the massively harmful – many of them carcinogenic – other chemicals in tobacco (like tar and carbon monoxide); none of which are present in e-fluids sold in the UK. So, while nicotine’s critical in getting smokers addicted to the oh-so dangerous other chemicals in tobacco, it doesn’t harm the body in itself.


E-cig vapour can be harmful to non-vapers – yes or no?

There’s very little evidence out there to suggest vaping is particularly harmful at all to vapers (and what does suggest that tends to be very contentious) – so why should vapour then harm non-vapers? E-liquids, for the most part, comprise a blend of the non-hazardous chemicals vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and flavourings (which feature in many foods we consume), as well as nicotine and water. No surprise than that PHE’s latest research found no identified health risks from ‘passive vaping’.

Vaping is a gateway to smoking for the young – yes or no?

There’s no question that – not least for marketing purposes – the vaping industry has developed for itself a very fashionable, rather youthful identity and that means that, yes, it’s quickly become appealing to teenagers and young people. Yet, while the numbers of young people who’ve given vaping a go isn’t exactly low, the likelihood this is driving them towards smoking appears to be very low. This may be, in part, because regular vaping among teenagers is far from high.

Much more likely – and a lot of research suggests this is the case – it’s smokers who are making the switch the other way, to vaping; precisely because they rightly see it as a way to kick the tobacco habit (as e-liquid’s nicotine content ensures, at first, their need for a hit will be sated) and so put an end to the harm the former’s doing to their bodies. So, another feather in vaping’s cap then!