Public health expert warns Hackney Council could ‘come to regret’ vape store partnership

Hackney Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Hackney Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council has been warned that it could ‘come to regret’ a promotional partnership with vape stores in the borough by a public health expert.

The Town Hall is promoting a 15pc discount for vape starter kits through its Stop Smoking Service as part of a promotional push for Stoptober.

However Professor Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, expressed disbelief at the Town Hall's active promotion of tobacco alternative tobacco, citing the long-term health impacts are not known.

A study in the British Medical Journal concluded there is not currently enough evidence to show that e-cigarettes' respiratory effects are less harmful than those of smoking.

Prof McKee said: "E-cigarettes are not a game-changer the way they're saying. Most people who use them end up as dual users," he said.

"This means they get the nicotine from both but they get the tar from cigarettes and the flavourings from e-cigarettes, so actually they're worse off.

"It's not true that vaping is the quickest and most effective way for people to stop smoking. If these things were so wonderfully effective, we would have had trials showing how fantastic they were.

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"Hackney Council may come to regret this decision."

Public Health England (PHE) estimates that vaping is "95pc safer than smoking", despite highlighting the long-term health impacts of using e-cigarettes are not currently known.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine pitted e-cigarettes against other nicotine replacement therapies, and concluded that when combined with face-to-face support they are up to twice as effective for quitting smoking as other products like patches or gum.

However Professor McKee has criticised PHE for being "completely out of touch with the rest of the world", slamming its "95 per cent safer" advice as "completely implausible".

The 30 September clinical review, carried out by the University of California San Francisco, Duke University and Yale School of Medicine among others, states: "We reiterate that, to date, no long term vaping toxicological/safety studies have been done in humans; without these data, saying with certainty that e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes is impossible."

Alison Keating, PHE London's head of tobacco, said: "PHE has always been clear that vaping is not without risks - if you don't smoke don't vape. But if you're a smoker, quit now and consider using an e-cigarette to help you.

"Our advice remains that e-cigarettes are a fraction of the risk of smoking, and using one makes it much more likely you'll quit successfully than relying on willpower alone.

"But it's important to use UK-regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances, any of which could be harmful."