By Gavin Mackintosh-
Public Health England (PHE) has released a new film showing the devastating harms that come from smoking. The film also shows how this can be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette or using another type of quit aid.
Released as part of PHE’s Health Harms campaign encouraging smokers to attempt to quit this January, it demonstrates the personal harm to health resulting from every single cigarette. This film has the kind of simple but serious warning every smoker should heed, but like many things, may take lightly. Public Health England has always been committed to improving the health of all citizens, often highlighting the dangers of smoking.
The film advert features smoking expert Dr Lion Shahab and Dr Rosemary Leonard, visually demonstrating the high levels of cancer-causing chemicals and tar inhaled by an average smoker over a month. These levels are then compared to the outcome of not smoking or using an e-cigarette.The results of the demonstration visually illustrates the stark contrast between the impacts of smoking and vaping. Research estimates that while not risk-free, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.
Around 2.5 million adults are using e-cigarettes in England, and they have helped thousands of people successfully quit . However, many smokers (44%) either believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking (22%) or don’t know that vaping poses much lower risks to health (22%). Public Health England is eager to change that perception by stressing the vast difference between smoking cigarettes and switching to e cigarettes. Many people hold the view that e cigarettes also have plenty of damaging chemicals in them which makes them very harmful, even if not as harmful as cigarettes.
Many health experts insist this is a false understanding being spread from poor sources who don’t know enough about e cigarettes and their components. The 20 sec advert depicts the effect of every cigarette smoked by smokers. It states that the single cigarette smoked causing poisons from the tar to spread to the blood stream and every part of the body, adding that ” if you could see the damage, you would stop”.
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, said:
”It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about safety. We need to reassure smokers that switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking. This demonstration highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk.
We want to encourage more smokers to try and quit completely with the help of an e-cigarette, or by using other nicotine replacement such as patches or gum, as this will significantly improve their chances of success. If you’re trying to stop smoking, our free online personal quit plan will help you find the support that’s right for you.
Dr Lion Shahab, leading smoking cessation academic from University College London, said:
The false belief that vaping is as harmful as smoking could be preventing thousands of smokers from switching to e-cigarettes to help them quit. I hope this illustrative experiment helps people see the huge damage caused by smoking that could be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette.
Research we and others have conducted shows that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and that using e-cigarettes on a long-term basis is relatively safe, similar to using licensed nicotine products, like nicotine patches or gum. Using e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement such as patches or gum will boost your chances of quitting successfully.
Smoking increases the risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions, including cancer and heart disease, and doubles the risk of dying from a stroke. Of the 6.1 million smokers in England, 6 in 10 want to quit, but many try to quit using willpower alone – or going ‘cold turkey’ – despite this being the least effective method.
The most successful quit attempts use a combination of effective stop smoking support methods. Recent research suggests that smokers who quit with the help of an e-cigarette are less likely to start smoking again.
Public Health England’s personal quit plan is a quick, free and easy-to-use digital tool to help smokers find the right support to help them quit, taking into account how much they smoke, and any quitting support used previously.
Dr Rosemary Leonard, an NHS GP, said:
”I wanted to be involved in this experiment because every day I see the devastating impact that smoking has on people’s health, but I rarely get the opportunity to actually show people what is happening inside their bodies when they smoke.
I regularly give patients advice about quitting and when I recommend e-cigarettes, I am often surprised to hear the misconceptions some people have about them. The results of this experiment clearly show that every cigarette you smoke causes tar to enter your body and spreads poison throughout your bloodstream. Vaping is much less harmful than smoking and I really hope this experiment will encourage smokers to make a quit attempt. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to stop”.
Image: Public Health England Smoke Free Experiment