Welsh Tobacco Control Delivery Plan Fails to Recognise Role of Vaping in Reducing Smoking Rates

The Welsh Government is ignoring the vital place of electronic vaping products in achieving their smoking prevalence targets, despite the fact that by using them 2.9 million vapers reduced tobacco consumption and more than 50% ceased entirely, says Fontem Ventures. 

The Welsh Tobacco Control Delivery Plan, published this week, outlines the government’s commitment to reduce the number of smokers in Wales to 16 percent by 2020 and is divided into four action areas:

  • Promoting leadership in tobacco control;
  • Reducing the uptake of smoking;
  • Reducing smoking prevalence levels;
  • Reducing exposure to second-hand smoke.

Speaking about the Plan today, Marc Michelsen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Fontem Ventures said: “As use of electronic vaping products in the UK has increased, smoking rates have fallen to the lowest levels on record. There is also increasing scientific evidence that vaping products are driving reduced cigarette consumption and smoking cessation even among those smokers not intending to quit or rejecting other support. It is therefore a missed opportunity that the Welsh Government – in stark contrast to Public Health England, and NHS Health Scotland, who today stated that “e-cigarettes are definitely less harmful than smoking” – has failed to acknowledge this evidence and chosen not to support the use of electronic vaping products as a legitimate and effective way to achieve its goal of a tobacco-free society.”

The evidence is increasingly clear that vaping products can be used as a positive tool for smokers to reduce and replace conventional tobacco cigarettes, and are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco. Further, numerous public health groups have attributed the increasingly rapid decline of smoking rates to the growing popularity of electronic vaping products.

The Welsh government, however, does not mention the positive role vaping is playing in reducing smoking prevalence, but states that: “In order to achieve a further reduction in adult smoking levels in Wales more smokers need to be motivated to quit, and to use cessation services that offer evidence-based behavioural support combined with appropriate medication/nicotine replacement therapy. The success rate from such provision is four times greater than that from an unaided quit attempt.”

A recent Cancer Research UK funded study found that people using vaping products to quit smoking were 60 percent more likely to succeed than those using traditional, over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products or willpower alone. Additionally, Santé Publique France, the French national Public Health Agency, found that among people who smoke, those who also using an vaping products regularly, were more likely to try to quit smoking and reduce their cigarette consumption during the next six months.

Additional support this year comes from the UK’s annual Stoptober campaign in England, which for the first time has embraced the products, with the UK government’s deputy chief medical officer saying electronic vaping products had “95% less harmful products” in them than conventional tobacco cigarettes and it was only right that they were promoted during Stoptober.

“Despite the Plan’s disappointing lack of explicit support for vaping, we are committed to ongoing innovation that can bring effective tobacco alternatives to market,” said Michelsen. “We believe that the Welsh Government should introduce a clear public health narrative around vaping products, similar to that contained in the recent Tobacco Control Plan for England, which outlines a comprehensive commitment to educating smokers on the use and availability of electronic vaping products that can assist in replacing conventional tobacco products.”

According to the Plan, smoking costs the Welsh NHS an estimated £302 million each year and current smoking rates sit at 19 percent.

“In the UK, we know that at least 1.4 million smokers have successfully quit smoking entirely by using electronic vaping products,” said Michelsen. “If the Welsh Government really wants to achieve more rapid declines in tobacco consumption, it should acknowledge this phenomenon and encourage the use of vaping products as part of its overall tobacco control strategy.”

Click here to see the full report: http://gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/170915tobaccoplanen.pdf

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