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Our vaping awareness campaign, Don’t Get Sucked In, is going strong educating youth (and New Zealand at large) that vaping is not without harm to your lungs. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with schools, DHBs, GPs, Nurses and pharmacies around the country requesting more information & resources.

Why is the Foundation involved in this topic? Because the Foundation, along with our Scientific Advisory Board members, want to see smoking become a thing of the past in New Zealand. However, this should not be to the detriment of never smokers taking up vaping.

Vaping, while probably safer than smoking, it is still harmful to the lungs, and there is an awful lot of confusion surrounding this.  

Much of the misconception stems from a 2015 report by Public Health England, E-cigarettes: an evidence update, where vaping was stated to be “95% safer” than smoking. This figure initially appeared in a 2014 article, where a number of ‘international experts’ (including a lawyer and a business consultant) were asked to rate the risks of various inhaled products using a 0-100 scale for a range of harms.  

These harms were not only health-related, but included things like crime, family adversities, and international damage. Each item was then scored, with tobacco getting 100% and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) just 5%. These results have been used as a ‘tag-line’ for the vaping industry, and repeated ad nauseum as “e-cigarettes/vaping products are 95% less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes”. However, even the authors noted the shortcomings of their own work, saying that “a limitation of this study is the lack of hard evidence for the harms of most products on most of the criteria.”

Basically, the authors themselves admit that the mythical ‘95% safer’ figure is pulled out of thin air.

It is irresponsible to assume anything based on the extremely limited evidence we currently have around e-cigarettes and vaping. There has not been enough research, nor enough time, to fully understand the long-term effects of vaping to human health. To learn from the past, people thought cigarettes were safe 50 years ago, but time has proven otherwise.

The Foundation exists to protect respiratory health and educate the public. The bizarre, constant and aggressive opposition to medical and respiratory health experts’ statements on vaping is unusual to say the least.

We look forward to submitting alongside the real experts in this field at the Health Select Committee.

-        Letitia Harding, CEO

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