October 5, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

It's time to stop quoting the more than three-year-old PHE report on e-cigs

The report by Public Health England that concluded that e-cigs are 95% safer than conventional cigarettes continues to be widely quoted to oppose sesnibe regulation of e-cigarettes. 

As I have noted before, there were many problems with the PHE report the day it was released in August 2015. 

But, given that research on e-cigarettes is rapidly accumulating, the most serious criticism of the PHE report is now that it is bacdly out-of-date.  It was released over 3 years ago (and written some time before that), before almost all the research supporting our current understanding of e-cigarettes was published.

For example, since PHE was published, we know that:

  • E-cigs are attracting youth who would be unlikely to start nicotine with conventional cigarettes are starting with e-cigarettes.
  • Every study that has looked at the “gateway effect” (including work in England), has shown that kids who start with e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to smoking than kids who don’t start with e-cigarettes.
  • While some people do quit smoking with e-cigarettes, for most smokers, using e-cigarettes makes it harder to quit cigarettes.
  • E-cigarette users are at increased risk of heart attacks.
  • E-cigarette users are at increased risk of lung disease.

Decision makers should base thinking on the current evidence, not ancient history.



Would be helpful to have citations for these 5 sentences. Also, for the last two, were the users exclusively e-cig users or were they previously or even concurrently smokers?


The best recent evidence summary is from the European Public Health Association.  It is available here.

The last two statements are based on studies that accounted for cigarette smoking (including people who never smoked, i.e., only used e-cigarettes).

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