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E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco, estimates landmark review (gov.uk)
52 points by troydavis 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

My son grew up with my ex. The entire household smoked. When he moved in with me, he switched to vaping. I am very thankful for that. While vaping has some risks (shady vape juice vendors, low quality coils that give off toxins), I gladly accept that over something that we all know causes cancer for the consumer and those around them.

Any time I see discussions or articles about vaping or e-cig being dangerous, I automatically assume it is funded by a part of the tobacco industry that has not invested in vaping. There is no logical reason otherwise. The vape juice quality can and should be addressed by the FDA and consumer reviews. By all means, educate people on risks, but every attempt to keep people on cigarettes needs to be nullified.

I think I could live with an increase in e-cig users if it meant a drastic decline in tobacco users.

Fighting all use of e-cigs throws the baby out with the bath water. That's my frustration with all the anti vape campaigns you tend to see.

It's like advocating against teen education of condoms because not having sex as a teen is possibly healthier.

It's obviously worse than not smoking at all, but it's getting clearer study after study that it's at least partially better than smoking. The huge majority of vapers I've ever spoken to (the overwhelming majority being ex-smokers), except those Vape Naysh types, are very aware of this.

We do need to get rid of flavored Vapes, kids don't even realize they are using nicotine and becoming lifelong addicts.

Adults use flavored vapes, too. In fact, almost all the adults I know who vape use flavored vapes; adults ranging in age in from 30-70. And all those adults switched from cigarettes to vaping.

The war on cigarettes has gone on so long that we've lost perspective. Part of the strategy of that war was to make nicotine out to be some horrendous and horrendously addictive poison, which was an easier sell for some people than explaining the varied and complicated effects from smoking combustible tobacco.

Kids shouldn't be using nicotine because of their developing brains. Kids experimenting with vaping out of ignorance should be educated.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that cigarette smoking is unfathomably more harmful for society. From an epidemiological perspective, if this was a zero-sum game it would make perfect sense to trade vaping for cigarettes, even if that meant teens were vaping at the same rate as they were smoking cigarettes at the peak.

If people want to obsess over flavored poisons, we should start by banning wine coolers (if not all wine!), alcoholic cider, and the myriad brands of flavored hard liquor.

1) That only matters if nicotine itself is substantially bad for you, which is far from clear: https://www.gwern.net/

2) Adults like flavors too. We shouldn't ban anything appealing that kids shouldn't have just because it might appeal to kids.

  “The whole problem with nicotine is that it happens to be
  found in cigarettes,” she told me. “People can’t
  disassociate the two in their mind, nicotine and smoking.
  It’s not the general public that annoys me, it’s the
  scientists. When I tell them about the studies, they should
  say, ‘Wow.’ But they say, ‘Oh well, that might be true, but
  I don’t see the point.’ It’s not even ignorance. It’s their
  preconceived ideas and inflexibility.”


  “To my knowledge, nicotine is the most reliable cognitive
  enhancer that we currently have, bizarrely,” said Jennifer
  Rusted, professor of experimental psychology at Sussex
  University in Britain when we spoke. “The cognitive
  enhancing effects of nicotine in a normal population are
  more robust than you get with any other agent. With
  Provigil, for instance, the evidence for cognitive benefits
  is nowhere near as strong as it is for nicotine.”
From https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-a-nicotine-p...

I've never smoked (though I tried and failed to be pick up vaping 10 years ago), but I think it should be abundantly clear that for centuries many smokers have been effectively self-medicating, either to blunt some mental disorder (Schizophrenia, etc) or for what today we might call a cognitive enhancer. It's just that the addictiveness of smoking has masked that phenomenon. Vaping is unmasking it because nicotine alone is not nearly as addictive as smoking. (Seems unclear if vaping is as non-addictive as, e.g, nicotine patches or gum. Probably not, but we'll see.)

It's worth noting that tobacco contains harmala alkaloids [1] which are monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). So it's possible those who persist with smoking in place of vaping or other nicotine delivery mechanisms might be doing so because they're (unknowingly) self-medicating for depression.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmala_alkaloid

That is fascinating.

There's no reason adults would want to vape juice that tastes like shit. Why not going after retailers that illegally sells to minors instead of fucking over consenting adults? By this logic, you'd have to ban sales of peach schnapps to be anywhere consistent.

There is a reason flavored cigarettes are illegal. Should the children be fucked over instead?

I think if they do this a lot of people will go back to smoking.

Ex-smokers still want to smoke, vaping is just barely decent enough to switch if you want to.

Unless he's vaping juice without nicotine, there is still a cancer risk.

I used to chew nicotine gum to enhance my concentration but after reading research that nicotine by itself causes lung cancer I stopped.

  research that nicotine by itself causes lung cancer
Reference, please? I haven't heard of a causal link between non-inhaled nicotine and lung cancer.

I've tried to do research on this before and found very few studies looking at nicotine alone. I also never saw anything about a link between oral nicotine and lung cancer so I'm suspect of this claim as well.

There are indeed some shady vape juice providers as I mentioned. Some even included heavy metals. People should research what they are buying and where it comes from.

As for vaping itself causing cancer, I would be interested in seeing the studies and who is funding them. Applying any heated material to your tissue can increase the probability of cancer, just about as much as walking in the sun for a short period of time. This is still substantially lower risk that sucking tar/smoke that is radio-active, which all cigarettes are.

If someone outlaws vaping, I will help my son avoid said laws until such a time that people snap out of it.

Nicotine by itself is not a carcinogen. There could be other substances that causes cancer inside the gum.

The entire public health crusade against e-cigs reminds me of the anti-pot crusade in the 80s and 90s. Lots of decisions made by the government based on emotion instead of based on evidence.

In the 19-29 year old demographic, e-cig vaping is cannibalizing cigarette smoking. That's a net public health gain, since e-cigs have dramatically fewer carcinogens.

Yet we'll still have people saying that that 5% is just too much.

There will always be people who want to eliminate all risk, even if it's impossible to do so.

Maybe it is. Would be good to benchmark it against stuff other than the byword for self inflicted cancer.

Is it as bad as coca cola? If so it should probably be discouraged.

I would actually love to know if it's as bad as coca cola.

Sugar generally?

High-fructose corn syrup specifically.

HFCS compared to Sugar or nothing?

Americans clearly eat way too much Sugar or Sugar like substances. Even if best case HFCS is ruled as healthy as Sugar, it should still be drastically cut back / avoided.

Is there any strong evidence that dietary HFCS is consequentially different than sugar? HFCS is 55%/45% fructose/glucose vs 50%/50% for cane sugar.

That's a mere 5% difference, plus the fact that the gut doesn't need to cleave the fructose from the glucose using sucrase. But AFAIU the cleaving happens readily and rapidly.

It wouldn't be shocking if HFCS was consequentially different, but it seems unlikely. HFCS just seems like a misleading distraction outside arguments about agricultural politics. Worse than a distraction, actually, because relying on flimsy and unnecessary arguments makes it easier for those defending the arguably excessive use of sugar in the food supply to inject FUD into the debate.

E cigs are physically healthier than normal cigarettes but I still think they are worse for you.

What on Earth does that even mean?

It means that there is a psychology component. That people who are addicts, nicotine or whatever, spend significant portions of mental energy focussed on the object of addiction.

Great thing about e-cigs is that you can wean yourself off the nicotine while still keeping the simulation of smoking. You can buy progressively lower nicotine concentrations until you feel comfortable with no nicotine. Once you don't have a physical addiction, giving up the e-cig entirely becomes easier. I used to smoke cigarettes and drink caffeine whenever I was staying up late to study. School got harder so more late nights meant I smoked more up to the point I was smoking during the day just to smoke. I switched to a vape with a high nicotine concentration instead. I found that I used it much more often, I could get a nicotine fix indoors but at least it wasn't a real cig. I started backing down the concentration and the use (mostly due to the public image of looking like a douchebag blowing huge clouds) and now I'm at the point where I only use the lowest concentration when I'm in the car alone. Nicotine addiction is barely on the radar for me anymore. Smoking really doesn't have that "volume knob" that vaping does. You can make that responsible choice of buying lower concentrations that isn't really possible when you buy a pack of cigs.

Indeed, those people could be producing things for me.

Ya basically what verdverm said. They are much more addictive since you can smoke them anywhere anytime now.

The article says they are 95% less harmful than cigarettes. Yet you say you still think they are “worse for you”. Regardless of accessibility, I just can’t see that being a sensible statement. You can’t say whatever psychological harms may be occurring are worse than death - that’s insane. Fewer people are dying, they’re less harmful, period. Not ideal, sure, but we’re moving in the right direction.

I feel like they are worse for society. We have an epidemic among children, people smoking them indoors, unknown usage and concentrations of a highly addictive substance.

It's good to see studies like this.

To my knowledge addiction to nicotine poses no known health risk. Its interesting that the anti-smoking movement that was motivated by the public health risk associated with smoking has gradually turned into a puritanical drive to eliminate addiction.

It seems to me that identifying less harmful alternatives to smoking (ecigs) is a more realistic path to smoking cessation than saying it's all bad.

From 2015, also curious who "funded" the study?

Here's a 2018 URL affirming the same estimate:


That page has tons more detail. The first footnote is a report commissioned by Public Health England, the British equivalent of the US FDA.

Here's a joint statement by 13 of the most influential - and most neutral - UK public health organizations, including the Royal College of Physicians (US equivalent: American Medical Association) and the British Lung Foundation (US equiv: American Lung Association): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/...

These aren't obviously biased studies or people and they aren't easy to dismiss.

Whether the health difference is 20x ("at least 95% healthier"), 10x, or 50x, there's now a nicotine delivery method - vaping - that, while far from healthy, almost everyone agrees is far healthier than traditional smoking. The difference may be large enough to justify removing paper cigarettes from the retail market entirely.

I think it's funded by governemnt.

The report is published by, and commissioned by, Public Health England.

PHE is an executive branch of the Department for Health and Social Care. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-en...

I don’t smoke cigarettes but I’ve been exclusively vaping weed since 2012. Hope I’m getting some similar benefits.

Challenge to vape users, go 3 days without and evaluate the effects on your mood. Nicotine withdrawal is the part about giving up smoking that suuuucks!

Do you want to be dependent upon this particular chemical? Do you want to permanently change your brain? (I highly recommend against)

The study makes broad claims about physical health but was conducted by psychologists.

Also, the heavy metals in vape liquid and the spiking addiction rates in teenagers and children beg to differ with their conclusions.

> The study makes broad claims about physical health but was conducted by psychologists.

Where did you see anything about them being psychologists? Closest I could find was a handful of authors being associated with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience - neuroscientists and psychiatrists are very far from being psychologists...

> Also, the heavy metals in vape liquid

Very curious about your sources about the "heavy metals" in e-juice.

> the spiking addiction rates in teenagers and children beg to differ with their conclusions.

Addiction is caused nicotine, which hasn't been found to be particularly harmful by itself. Addiction rates speak nothing about harmfulness.

You're making a whole lot of unexplained claims here.

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