New Experiment Reveals Shocking Effects of Smoking Compared to Vaping

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

The film has been released as part of PHE’s Health Harms campaign, which is supported by Kent County Council in encouraging smokers in Kent to make a quit attempt this January by demonstrating the personal and irrefutable harm to health from every single cigarette.

Smoking prevalence in South East is currently 13.7%, the lowest in England which has a national average of 14.9%. For Kent the rate is 16.3% and Medway 17.6%[i]

The film reveals the devastating harm smoking can do

The new short film shows leading scientists demonstrating how the toxic chemicals and tar inhaled by an average smoker[ii] in just one month compare with not smoking or using an e-cigarette. It features smoking expert Dr Lion Shahab[iii] and Dr Rosemary Leonard carrying out an experiment to visually demonstrate the high levels of cancer-causing chemicals and tar inhaled by an average smoker over a month,[1] compared to not smoking or using an e-cigarette. The results of the experiment visually 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.[iv]

KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “There is evidence that changing from cigarettes and tobacco to vaping e-cigarettes poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and people need to realise that switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits, including reducing your chances of getting many types of cancer, heart and lung disease, and stroke.

“We know it can be tough to quit smoking but support services are available in Kent to help people in a range of different ways, from groups to one-to-one clinics, along with help from your local pharmacy. Find information about these services and other online support at

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

Jason Mahoney, Health and Wellbeing lead for PHE South East, said: “Smoking is a deadly habit. Last year it killed 35,875[[vii]] people in the South East and 66,293 people were admitted to hospital with a smoking related illness – which works out to be more than seven an hour.

“Our new film clearly shows the toxic nature of cigarettes and by comparison how e-cigarettes are much less harmful. E-cigaretttes can be a useful quitting tool for adult smokers. E-cigarettes are now the most popular stop smoking aid in England and are particularly effective when combined with expert support from a local stop smoking service.

“We are urging every smoker in the South East to take advantage of local stop smoking services, make a plan and quit for good this New Year. Search smokefree for your free personal quit plan.”

Dr Lion Shahab, leading smoking cessation academic from University College London, said: “The false belief that vaping is as harmful as smoking could be preventing thousands of smokers from switching to e-cigarettes to help them quit. I hope this illustrative experiment helps people see the huge damage caused by smoking that could be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette. Research we and others have conducted shows that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and that using e-cigarettes on a long-term basis is relatively safe, similar to using licensed nicotine products, like nicotine patches or gum. Using e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement such as patches or gum will boost your chances of quitting successfully.”

Smoking increases the risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions, including cancer and heart disease, and doubles the risk of dying from a stroke. Of the 6.1 million smokers in England,[viii] six in 10 want to quit but many try to quit using willpower alone – or going ‘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.[ix]

Public Health England’s Personal Quit Plan is a quick, free and easy-to-use digital tool to help smokers find the right support to help them quit, taking into account how much they smoke and any quitting support used previously.[x]

More information can be found on the Kent support services available at and

Alternatively, ring 0300 123 1220 (option 1), or text ‘QUIT’ to 87023. You can also find more information at


Note to newsdesks:

·         For more information, please contact 07912 515997

·         PHE’s Tobacco Control Profiles: For local smoking prevalence figures and additional local data see:

·         NHS Digital: Statistics on Smoking – England 2018



[1] The average smoker in England smokes 11 cigarette a day, equaling 330 a month, which was used for this experiment

[i] Public Health Engalnd. Local Tobacco Control Profiles.

[ii] ONS Adult Smoking habits in the UK, 2015 In 2015, the average smoker in England smoked 11 cigarettes a day, equaling 330 a month, which was used for this experiment

[iii] Dr Lion Shahab et al. 2017. Nicotine, carcinogen and toxicant exposure in long-term e-cigarette and nicotine replacement therapy users: a cross sectional study.

[iv] Public Health England, Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products [2018]

[v] Use of e-cigarettes (vapourisers) among adults in Great Britain – ASH Factsheet September 2018. Table 1: Number of e-cigarette users (vapers) in Great Britain.

[vi] Use of e-cigarettes (vapourisers) among adults in Great Britain – ASH Factsheet September 2018. Figure 9: Smokers’ perception of harm from e-cigarettes, Great Britain (2013 – 2018) 22% smokers believe vaping is ‘more or equally harmful’ as smoking and 22% ‘don’t know’


[vii]Public Health England ‘Local Tobacco Control Profiles’

[viii] ONS, Adult Smoking habits in the UK, 2017

[ix] Caitlin Notley el al. 2018. Vaping as an alternative to smoking relapse following brief lapse

[x] The PQP takes into account quitting support used previously including nicotine replacement therapies like patches, gum or inhalers, and e-cigarettes, face-to-face advice, Smokefree App, daily emails and support on Facebook.



New Experiment Reveals Shocking Effects of Smoking Compared to Vaping was last modified: December 28th, 2018 by Gemma Smith