Since 2012, Public Health England has been trying to convince people to stop smoking through their annual campaign Stoptober. During the month of October, smokers are encouraged to sign-up on the official website to receive support.

The organisers behind the smoking cessation campaign say that quitting for 28 days with a program like Stoptober makes smokers five times more likely to remain smoke-free.

Smokers looking to harness every available opportunity during Stoptober should consider smoking replacement therapy such as gums and patches. But what about e-cigarettes?

Even though vaping statistics show that nearly two out of five e-cigarette users are ex-smokers, e-cigs may have become unalluring to those wishing to kick the habit due to the overwhelming negative press they’ve received.

Are e-cigarettes really that safe?

A recent review by Public Health England has examined the health risks related with vaping and found that they are 95% safer than cigarettes. Thanks to findings like this, e-cigarettes will be considered an aid to quit smoking, and could be prescribed on the NHS from 2016.

While e-cigarettes cut the damages of smoking drastically, their long-term impact on health has yet to be verified.

US researchers found that e-cig vapour could damage the lungs and significantly raise the risks of respiratory infections.

In addition, an electronic cigarette does not change the addictive effect of nicotine. If e-cigarette smokers were to quit, the withdrawal symptoms would be the same as with standard cigarettes, and the damages on the brain development of younger smokers would be the same.

The biggest concern related to electronic cigarettes is that they might be a “gateway to smoking” for non-smokers and younger people alike. However, this fear is not currently supported by any official data: a report from the Office for National Statistics on the use of e-cigarettes in the UK found that only 0.14% of non-smokers use e-cigarettes, against 11.8% of smokers and 4.8% of ex-smokers.

Benefits outweigh risks for smokers, but not for non-smokers

In the Public Health England review of e-cigarettes, Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said: “E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm.”

Furthermore, in terms of smoking cessation efficacy, recent statistics suggest that e-cigs are fast becoming the preferred form of nicotine replacement therapy.

Though it would be preferable to see smokers go both smoke and nicotine free, electronic nicotine delivery devices could be the most effective product for smokers trying to get through Stoptober without reaching for tobacco products.

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