New Year’s resolution to quit smoking? Try vaping, a UK government advisory body says.

Public Health England (PHE) have produced a new film documenting an experiment showing the devastating effect smoking can have on your body and how long-term damage can be prevented by switching to e-cigarettes.

The film is part of PHE’s ‘Health Harms’ campaign, an initiative to encourage smokers to give up this January by showing the lasting damage smoking can cause.

Almost half a million smokers are expected to try and quit smoking this January and according to research by PHE, more than 44% of smokers wrongly believe vaping is as harmful as smoking or aren’t aware that it is a much lower risk to health option.

In the PHE film, expert’s conduct an experiment which offers a visual demonstration of the chemicals and tar inhaled by an average smoker in a month, compared with someone using an e-cigarette.

The experiment simulates the effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, e-cigarette vape and normal air into the lungs, represented by three jars filled with cotton wool. Each Jar is attached to a pump, simulating either smoking tobacco, vaping or air.

The end results were astonishing, the cotton wool in the tobacco smoke jar was charred and brown, and the tube drawing in the smoke is clogged and lined with tar.

In stark contrast, the e-cigarette jar remained virtually unchanged, with the cotton wool looking no different other than a little water vapour and slight discolouration from the e-liquid.

PHE director of health improvement, Professor John Newton, commented, “the experiment visually illustrates the stark contrast between the impacts of smoking and vaping.”

Research suggests that, while not without risk, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Prof Newton added, “It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about safety. We need to reassure smokers that switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking.

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, as this will significantly improve their chances of success.”

Dr Shahab, a leading smoking cessation academic and associate professor in health psychology at University College London, supports Prof Newton, “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 experiment helps people see the huge damage caused by smoking that could be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette.”

There are around 6.1 million smokers in England, with six in 10 wanting to quit but many give up by going ‘cold turkey’, which is often the most ineffective method.

PHE believes the most successful way to give up smoking long term is with a combination of stop-smoking support techniques and with the help of an e-cigarette.