700,000 people in the EU die each year as a result of smoking and every second smoker dies 14 years prematurely. [1] Switching to vaping has helped millions of smokers worldwide to significantly reduce the harm to their health. 

The principle of harm reduction works, and millions more smokers could benefit from it. But for it to really change society, smokers need the facts: and that starts with healthcare professionals.

Three experts from King’s College London and the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) have recently addressed health professionals, focusing on “myths about e-cigarettes and vaping“. [2]

E-cigarettes (vapes) are currently the most popular aid used to quit smoking in England and are used by around 4.3 million adults in Great Britain, the majority of whom are ex-smokers,” the authors state, emphasizing that ” … vaping poses only a small fraction of the health risks of smoking and that smokers should be encouraged to use vaping products … for stopping.” The experts fear that myths about vaping “risk undermining the use of these products as cessation aids.” 

IEVA president Dustin Dahlmann agrees: “The facts about harm reduction are on the table. If many more smokers who cannot quit by other means were to switch to e-cigarettes, millions of people worldwide could live better and longer lives. Health policy in the UK should be a shining example to all policy makers.

The UK government advises that vaping is at least 95 percent less harmful than smoking. The risk of developing cancer is considered to be 99.5 percent lower for vapers than for smokers. These findings have been substantiated in multiple publications over recent years. [3]

But too many smokers misjudge the comparative harm of vaping. Only 28 percent of smokers in Europe know that vaping is less harmful than smoking. [4]

It is critical that smokers are given the facts about harm reduction. Health professionals have responsibility as clinicians in direct contact with people who want to quit smoking”, says Dustin Dahlmann. 



[1] Public Health overview, European Commission. Link

[2] “There are many myths about e-cigarettes and vaping”, Nursing Times 22/02/2023. Link

[3] Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018, Public Health England. Link

[4] European adult smokers’ perceptions of the harmfulness of e-cigarettes relative to combustible cigarettes, European Journal of Public Health 2020. Link

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