Public Health Expert Says Nonsmokers Do Not Get Hooked on Ecigs

After years of studying tobacco addiction and how it impacts public health, Professor Peter Hajek is launching an unapologetic public defense of vaping. In a recent report to Wales Assembly Members, Hajek said that vaping bans were pointless and ecigs should actually be embraced and celebrated for their potential to help people quit smoking. “At the moment, all vaping does is potentially save lives,” he said.

Hajek believes that by banning vaping indoors, it will ultimately discourage smokers from switching to ecigs. He told Assembly Members that indoor ecig bans are actually quite pointless because there is no health threat associated with secondhand ecig vapor to put the public at risk.

Critics have taken a hard nosed to approach to ecigarettes at times, often claiming that they would lure nonsmokers into using tobacco products and potential nicotine addiction. But Hajek said this argument is completely unfounded. “At the moment the evidence we have is that e-cigarettes are remarkably unattractive to non-smokers,” he told the National Assembly’s Health Committee. “Nicotine by itself is not that addictive. What is addictive is cigarettes.”

Hajek explained that nonsmokers do occasionally try ecigs out of curiosity, but they very rarely progress to regular use. In fact, he said it was “almost impossible to find a young non-smoker who would be a daily vaper.”

The professor also expressed concerns that bans on public vaping would discourage smokers from trying ecigs out of fear for their health. “We have data year after year that more and more smokers believe that e-cigarettes are harmful. That puts them off doing something which would save their lives,” he explained.

When asked about potential ecig regulation, he said that he personally would vote against any rule that banned vaping in public areas. “One reason is that e-cigarettes do not harm bystanders. The rationale we had for banning smoking is that there is a risk of passive smoking. There is no risk of passive smoking (with ecigs).”

Hajek went on to explore why people wanted to ban vaping in the first place. “It becomes a questions of ‘I don’t like it, so I don’t want people to do it.’ You get into shaky ground. The dictator in North Korea – if he doesn’t like a certain type of haircut he can ban it. If somebody doesn’t like people vaping it’s not a good enough reason to ban it.”

The Royal College of Physicians also stood in opposition to a public vaping ban. “The RCP does not support a comprehensive ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed and substantially-enclosed public places. The recent report published in Public Health England clearly demonstrates that smoking e-cigarettes has become a popular method to quit smoking tobacco. There is no evidence that smoking e-cigarettes in enclosed spaces poses a significant risk to other people from inhalation of vapour.”

Do you think the warnings from Professor Hajek and the Royal College of Physicians will be enough to stop a public vaping ban in Wales? Will the rest of the world pay attention to the comments from these health experts?

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