PHE Health Harms campaign encourages smokers to quit Image: Open Government Licence v3.0

The Health Harms campaign encourages smokers to quit, by demonstrating the harms to health that come from every cigarette

Public Health England (PHE) has released a new film showing the devastating harms that come from smoking. It also shows how this can be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette or using another type of quit aid.

The film is as part of PHE’s Health Harms campaign, which encourages smokers to attempt to quit this January.

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, said:

“This demonstration highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk.

“We want to encourage more smokers to try and quit completely with the help of an e-cigarette, or by using other nicotine replacement such as patches or gum, as this will significantly improve their chances of success.”

Level of cancer-causing chemicals inhaled over a month

The film features smoking expert Dr Lion Shahab and Dr Rosemary Leonard demonstrating the high levels of cancer-causing chemicals and tar inhaled by an average smoker over a month. This is compared to not smoking or using an e-cigarette.

The results of the demonstration illustrate the stark contrast between the impacts of smoking and vaping. Research estimates that while not risk-free, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.

Around 2.5 million adults are using e-cigarettes in England, and they have helped thousands of people successfully quit. But many smokers (44%) either believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking (22%) or don’t know that vaping poses much lower risks to health (22%).

Dr Lion Shahab, leading smoking cessation academic from University College London, said:

“I hope this illustrative experiment helps people see the huge damage caused by smoking that could be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette.

“Using e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement such as patches or gum will boost your chances of quitting successfully.”

Public Health England’s personal quit plan

Of the 6.1 million smokers in England, 6 in 10 want to quit. Many try to quit using willpower alone (‘cold turkey’) despite this being the least effective method.

The most successful quit attempts use a combination of effective stop smoking support methods. Recent research suggests that smokers who quit with the help of an e-cigarette are less likely to start smoking again.

Public Health England’s personal quit plan is a free and easy-to-use digital tool to help smokers find the right support to help them quit. It takes into account how much they smoke, and any quitting support used previously.

Dr Rosemary Leonard, an NHS GP, said:

“Vaping is much less harmful than smoking and I really hope this experiment will encourage smokers to make a quit attempt. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to stop.”

To find out more about the range of free support and tools available to help people quit smoking, visit the Smokefree website.