Thank you for contacting me about vaping and e-cigarettes.
While e-cigarettes are not risk free, and for smokers quitting altogether remains the best way to improve health, I do welcome evidence which indicates that they are considerably less harmful to health than cigarettes. Moreover, I recognise the important part which e-cigarettes can play in helping smokers to quit, with ONS figures showing that around half of e-cigarette users vape as an aid to stop smoking. In 2017, over 50,000 smokers stopped smoking with a vaping product who would otherwise have carried on smoking.
International peer-reviewed evidence indicates that the risk to the health of bystanders from e-cigarette vapour is low, and is insufficient to justify the prohibition of e-cigarettes. The ban on smoking in enclosed public places is based on strong evidence of harm from exposure to second-hand smoke, and the health benefits of preventing that exposure. Given that no evidence of comparable harm from exposure or benefit from protection exists in relation to exposure to e-cigarettes, they are not covered by this same legislation.
That said, I completely appreciate that the use of e-cigarettes in public places can be a nuisance. That is why I am glad that Public Health England (PHE) has produced guidance for employers and organisations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public. This guidance stipulates a number of considerations which it recommends be taken into account by employers and organisations when forming their policy on e-cigarettes. These include the fact that vaping can be a nuisance or distraction for people nearby, and that people with asthma and other respiratory conditions can be sensitive to a range of environmental irritants such as e-cigarette vapour.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.