Asthma UK responds to report on e-cigarettes

A report by a committee of MPs has been published today (Friday 17 August) saying that rules around e-cigarettes should be relaxed because they can help people to quit smoking. 

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK says: 

“Smoking and breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke causes damage in the lungs, and for the 5.4million people with asthma it could trigger a life-threatening asthma attack, so we welcome anti-smoking initiatives.

“There is evidence that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes*.

“However, people with asthma tell us that any sort of smoke or substance in the air can trigger their asthma symptoms, including the vapours or smells from e-cigarettes.

“An estimated 750,000 people with asthma could find e-cigarettes trigger their asthma symptoms*, leaving them coughing, wheezing and struggling to breathe.**

“We are therefore calling for more research into the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes to ensure that they are safe for people with asthma. Anyone with asthma who wants advice on smoking and e-cigarettes can get support from Asthma UK.”


For further information, please contact:

Catherine Jones, Head of Media,, 0207 786 4933

Notes to Editors:

*Evidence suggests vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. (McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L & Robson D (2015). Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2015. A report commissioned by Public Health England. London: Public Health England.)

** Falling Through the Gaps: Why more people need basic asthma care, included a survey of 7,611 people with asthma across the UK. To estimate that 750,000 people could find e-cigarettes affect their asthma, we applied the proportion of people in the survey who said e-cigarettes caused asthma symptoms (14%) to the UK asthma population which is 5.4 million.

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About Asthma UK:

  • In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
  • Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack.
  • The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800.
  • For more information about asthma please visit