How Successful Are E-Cigs As A Method Of Smoking Cessation?
Over the last 10 years, e-cigs have emerged as a viable method of quitting smoking, and have been reported to be the most popular in the UK. But do you know how well they work, if at all?
For those who are unaware, an electronic cigarette replicates the smoking sensation by heating e-liquid and creating vapour, which is inhaled by the user, delivering the nicotine or feeling they crave.
What Are the Stats?
According to Public Health England, a highly respected and influential health body, e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than regular cigarettes.
As a result of their success, numerous retailers sell the e-cig and accessories for affordable prices, and they have become a highly popular item.
According to statistics, there are around 2.20 million vapers in the UK (www.clivebates.com) and they are the most popular method of quitting.
The Research on Quitting
In addition, it has been estimated that vaping has helped approximately 18,000 people in 2015 quit smoking, and experts were quick to welcome these reports.
“What’s reassuring is this study suggests that rather than undermining people’s efforts, using e-cigarettes improves the likelihood of someone quitting,” said Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director of British Heart Foundation.
Cancer Research Comments
Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, echoed Dr Knapton’s sentiments.
"E-cigarettes can play a role in helping people quit and the evidence so far shows e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco. This study shows the positive impact they've had on helping people give up the deadly addiction."
"This study reassures us of the promise these products have."
Regulation in the US & UK
However, e-cigs have been subjected to fierce regulation in both the UK and in particular the US, as some scientists have argued that they ‘renormalise’ or are a ‘gateway’ to smoking. Some scientists have even wrongfully claimed that they’re even unhealthier than regular cigarettes.
In the UK, the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive has taken affect (gosmokefree.co.uk), but the future is unclear since Britain elected to leave the European Union in the referendum.
Among the proposed changes was to ban menthol cigarettes, limit e-liquid nicotine content and implement advertising restrictions.
In the US, the regulations are not so equivocal. The Food and Drug Administration began their regulation in May 2016 and plan to regulate e-cigarettes in the same way that normal tobacco is regulated.
As a result, vaping has been banned from many public spaces in some states and cities. Most recently, Manhattan ruled in favour of banning e-cigarettes from public places and places of employment.
Vaping Vs Smoking in Workplace
This is an issue to some vapers, as it forces them outside like cigarette smokers and could undo all the work they’ve done to quit smoking. This argument has been backed up by Public Health England.
"Vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit smoking and stay smokefree, particularly among those most heavily addicted."
"To maximise the number of smokers switching to e-cigarettes, vaping should be made a more convenient, as well as safer, option."
It’s with good reason that Public Health England aims to distinguish smoking from vaping.
According to a recent study, e-cig vapour does not cause damage to DNA like cigarettes. Moreover, vaping does not produce oxidative stress in viable lung epithelial cells.
Another attribute according to experts is that vaping can help battle obesity. When smokers quit, they gain an average of 5kg in weight in the first year. However, this is not the case when smokers switch to vaping.
With all of this considered, there are certainly positives to vaping that should be explored and researched. The effectiveness doesn’t seem in doubt, it’ll be interesting to see whether legislators will let vaping flourish.
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