A smoking habits survey conducted by the Office For National Statistics in the UK found that more than half of England’s 2.2 million vapers were using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. Yet more evidence that vaping is not just a public health win, but a public health breakthrough. Despite years of anti-tobacco campaigns, smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death worldwide. On average smokers die ten years earlier than non-smokers, and even though a third of them try to quit smoking each year, the majority of them don’t succeed for very long.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that vaping is an effective, if not the MOST EFFECTIVE method to quit smoking. That’s why the NHS, England’s National Health Service, is allowing doctors to prescribe e-cigs to smokers who want to quit.
Not only are they helping them kick the habit entirely, but smokers are using e-cigarettes to cut down on the amount of tobacco they consume. That’s a victory too; smoking fewer cigarettes dramatically cuts the risk of smoking-related diseases, and many smokers quit by gradually cutting down their nicotine intake over time. According to the survey, there’s not only fewer smokers now than ever before, but those that smoke are smoking fewer cigarettes each day.
Vaping’s Success in England
In England, around eight million adults smoke, and four million of them will die of smoking-related diseases. They smoke because they enjoy nicotine, but it is the tar and carbon monoxide that kills them. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, but not the tar or other toxic chemicals. More than a third of English smokers tried to give up smoking in 2014, and more than a quarter of those tried by using e-cigarettes.
As a result, smoking rates for English males are at the lowest level ever recorded. Professor Robert West says that a “significant” number of people who would otherwise still be smoking were able to stop smoking thanks to e-cigarettes, and Professor Peter Hajek said that e-cigarettes “have the potential to reduce fatalities linked to smoking.” While the study was conducted in England, there’s no reason to think that e-cigs aren’t having a similar impact all around the world.
Vaping is an excellent “harm-reduction” technology — and nobody’s arguing that vaping is as good for the lungs as a fresh summer breeze, but compared to smoking it is a literal life saver. It’s safe to assume that at this stage vaping has saved thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives worldwide.
Yet Another Blow to the Gateway Theory
And it’s time to say goodbye to the ‘gateway theory’ — it’s impossible to look at the data and say that e-cigarettes are ‘renormalizing’ smoking
The gateway theory is an emotionally-charged, ‘think of the children’ style argument, but one that can’t be backed by facts. Proponents argue that children who use e-cigs will eventually progress to tobacco, but if that were true then surely we would be see tobacco use rise alongside e-cigarette use.
In reality, the more that young people use e-cigarettes, the faster that smoking rates fall. The CDC admits that as young people have experimented with e-cigarettes, smoking rates have fallen to historic lows. The ONS survey found that e-cigarettes are “almost exclusively” used by either smokers or ex-smokers.
There’s also a whole heap of data showing us that in states where e-cigarettes have an age restriction, teenagers are turning back to smoking cigarettes — a tragic unintended consequence of emotion rather than logical lawmaking.
Survey Confirms What We Already Know
The ONS survey basically confirmed what vapers have been saying all along:
- E-cigarettes are used as a quit smoking device by the majority of users
- They have helped tens of thousands of smokers quit in England alone
- E-cigs are “almost exclusively” used by current or ex-smokers