Many countries throughout the world have long recognized the health crisis associated with smoking tobacco. New Zealand recently chose to legalize vaping and specifically mentioned helping smokers quit as one of their primary motivations. Now, data from Great Britain reveals that UK smokers are turning to e-cigarettes in record numbers as they make an effort to end their dependence on cigarettes.
Great Britain’s Great Exit From Smoking
European countries in general have had a long fondness for smoking. This is especially true in regards to the British population. As little as 50 years ago almost half of the British population were regular smokers. These numbers have dropped in recent years thanks in part to public programs and government initiatives that were crafted to educate and inform the public about the health risks of tobacco use.
Great Britain, like many other countries, has experienced a significant health crisis due to tobacco consumption. In 2007, it was estimated that some 107,000 individuals died from smoking-related illnesses. Thankfully, this is beginning to change. The country now sports the greatest reduction of deaths from lung cancer in the entire world.
As a result of many factors, the number of adult smokers in the UK has now dropped to just 16.9 percent of the adult population. What is particularly significant about this number is that government officials have been quick to praise vaping as a factor. The UK has embraced vaping since its earliest days, and new data reveals that more than 50% of current smokers have recently made a decision to quit. Most of them also report that they are using e-cigarette devices to help them in their quest.
Why UK Smokers are Vaping in a Quest to Quit
For starters, British locals have benefited from some of the most thorough studies to date on the efficacy of vaping as a tool for smoking cessation. In early 2017, the results of a long-term study conducted by Public Health England made headlines around the world. The organization concluded that vaping was far and away safer than smoking, and even broached the subject that vaping could be successful as a form of tobacco replacement therapy.
The Royal College of Physicians also conducted their own study which agreed with the findings of PHE. As a result of these studies, lawmakers in the UK are now beginning to throw their considerable weight behind support of the vaping industry. The country has more or less publicly promoted vaping as the incoming data supports it as safer.
It is hard to dispute the UK’s rationale. Yet, there remains a strong contrast in regards to how vaping is perceived by health officials in the United States. Vaping industry leaders and advocates are pointing to the UK as a role model for how other countries should approach vaping.
What the US can Learn from Vaping in the UK
In the United States there has been an ongoing conflict between the vaping industry and public health organizations. The FDA has imposed its new “deeming” regulations. The Centers for Disease Control have issued warnings that conflict with studies from reputable organizations. The Surgeon General has made broad, sweeping statements that sometimes bear little resemblance to the facts we have about vaping at the present time.
There is a powerful example being set by lawmakers in the UK that the United States and other countries could embrace to resolve their own smoking-related health crises. New Zealand has been one of the first to walk back existing mentalities and consider vaping as a successful alternative to smoking. Here are a few things the new data in the UK could inspire throughout the world.
- More long-term vaping studies. Admittedly, more data is needed. The studies by PHE and the Royal College of Physicians should be springboards to other research.
- A willingness to rethink vaping. In far too many cases, vaping has been seen as a substitute rather than an alternative. There is a vast difference. Studies have shown that nicotine absorption rates from e-cigarettes are lower than they are with traditional cigarettes. The two experiences are not the same, and one is emerging as far safer than the other.
- Increased cooperation between the vaping industry and public health officials. At the very least, a more positive dialogue should be encouraged.
Globally, tobacco use is creating massive healthcare costs. What the UK has realized is that vaping can not be dismissed out of hand as a means to curb smoking. It must be given the proper evaluation that it is due.