31 May marks World No Tobacco Day, an initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) aimed at raising public awareness on the dangers of smoking and promoting healthy lifestyles. This year, the WHO seems to be focusing its attention once again on vaping, leaving traditional cigarettes curiously on the sidelines.

Vapes, or electronic cigarettes, have been the subject of heated debate since their introduction to the market. For some, it's an effective tool to help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco consumption, while others see it as a new threat to public health, particularly for young people.

The WHO has long expressed concerns about vaping, citing concerns about safety, effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool and its appeal to young people. This year, World No Tobacco Day seems to be following this trend by once again warning against vaping, without tackling the issue of traditional cigarettes directly.

However, this sole focus on vapes overlooks the ongoing and devastating impact of smoking on public health. Conventional cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, responsible for millions of deaths each year from heart disease, cancer and lung disease.


While it is essential to protect young people from the influence of nicotine products, demonising vaping without acknowledging its role in reducing harm is a mistake for public health. 

The WHO's concerns about the marketing tactics of big tobacco companies such as British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (Philip Morris) are valid. However, confusing vaping with traditional smoking only confuses the issue and ignores the fact that the two products are very different when it comes to their harmfulness.


Here are the facts that the WHO should take into account :

Vaping is less harmful than smoking

In 2022, British experts reviewed international data and found that vaping presents only a small fraction of the short and medium-term risks associated with smoking. Unlike cigarettes, which release thousands of harmful chemicals when burnt, e-cigarette vapour contains far fewer toxins. 

By completely replacing cigarettes with vapes, smokers significantly reduce their exposure to carcinogens, thereby lowering their risk of cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke.

Nicotine is relatively harmless

Although nicotine is addictive, it is important to distinguish between addiction and harm. Nicotine itself does not cause cancer, lung disease, heart disease or stroke, the main health problems associated with smoking. It's the multitude of other chemical and toxic substances found in cigarette smoke that causes health problems. 

In fact, it has been proven that vaping with nicotine is one of the most effective methods to quit smoking, outperforming traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or chewing gum.

Vaping is safer for users and those around them

Vaping delivers nicotine by heating the e-liquid, which produces far less toxins than burning tobacco in cigarettes. While smoking poses serious risks to those around you through second-hand smoke exposure, there is currently no evidence to suggest that second-hand vapour is similarly harmful. 

Vaping not only protects users from the dangers of smoking, but also those around them.

Vaping allows a gradual reduction in nicotine

One of the key strengths of vaping as a smoking cessation tool is its flexibility. Users can gradually reduce their nicotine intake by adjusting the nicotine content of their e-liquids, eventually vaping without nicotine. This gradual approach helps to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, increasing the chances of long-term success when it comes to quitting smoking.


While the WHO rightly advocates protecting young people from the influence of the tobacco industry, it is imperative that vaping is seen as an effective risk-reduction tool and not simply an extension of smoking. 

By providing verified information and supporting smokers who want to quit, real progress can be made in reducing the number of smoke-related illnesses and deaths around the world. So let's focus our efforts on evidence-based strategies that prioritise public health and empower individuals to make informed choices.  

Thank you for reading. 

The Sweetch team