Electronic Cigarettes Are Now Firmly Part of a Better Society
More UK health authorities are recommending electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking.
When the NHS advised people during Stoptober — the annual campaign to try and help people stop smoking — to use electronic cigarettes to try and kick their tobacco habit, it was a seminal moment for the vaping sector. It was the first time the health service had made such a bold recommendation, and it follows similar advice from other health authorities in the UK.
There is extremely good reason for this. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the UK, and indeed right around the world. Here, tens of thousands of people lose their lives to smoking each year — around 80,000 in England, 13,500 in Scotland, 5,500 in Wales and 2,300 in Northern Ireland. Altogether, some 7.6 million people in Britain currently smoke, which is almost 16% of the population and an alarming figure that the health authorities want to drive right down.
Clearly, the substance that smokers desire is nicotine. As anyone who has ever smoked knows all too well, it’s incredibly hard to quit. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream and leads to a release of adrenaline in the brain; it is this sensation that gives smokers a sense of pleasure — their nicotine “buzz”. Cravings for the experience can be overpowering, and no amount of nicotine patches or gums, hypnotherapy or anything else can be effective in getting people off cigarettes. Plus, there are all the withdrawal symptoms for long-term smokers who stop, which can be intensely crippling and difficult to deal with.
The Buzz Without the Harm
Nicotine, however, is not necessarily the problem with smoking. Of all the many compounds released in burning tobacco — there are around 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, over 40 of which are known to cause various cancers — nicotine is considered to be among the least harmful. This is the primary reason health bodies are now recommending electronic cigarettes, because their e-liquid refills contains nicotine — sometimes none — and little else.
So, for its Stoptober campaign last year, the NHS decided that vaping — using electronic cigarettes — was among the leading ways for helping people to get off tobacco for good. “E-cigarettes are particularly effective when combined with support from local stop-smoking services — people who choose this route have some of the highest quitting success rates,” the campaign said.
This comes after other health authorities in the UK examined the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and sought to discover if they were harmful or beneficial to public health. They Royal College of Physicians — one of the oldest and most prestigious medical institutions in the world — concluded in a report on vaping that electronic cigarettes should be “widely promoted as a substitute for smoking” as they were “likely to be beneficial to UK public health. Smokers can therefore be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking”.
Big Tobacco and Electronic Cigarettes
Meanwhile, Cancer Research UK, the leading such body in the country, carried out a long-term study into vaping and said that while nicotine is addictive, it does not cause cancer. “This study adds to growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco, and suggests the long-term effects of these products will be minimal,” it said.
Now, in something of a surprising development, large tobacco firms that sell billions of cigarettes to millions of people around the world each year are getting out of the traditional cigarette business. One of the biggest, Philip Morris, recently acknowledged in full-page newspaper advertisements that, yes, smoking is definitely not good for public health and that the company itself was giving up, focusing on e-cigarettes instead.
For those seeking nicotine, then, the future firmly seems electronic. The evidence is growing that electronic cigarettes are helping to improve people’s health, and society in general.