The UK is known for being a driving force behind the proliferation of vaping devices among smokers, but there are many countries that one would not expect to be against the practice who uphold a ban – countries such as Canada, Australia, Israel and Singapore.
These countries maintain that there has not been enough research carried out in the field for them to be considered a worthwhile smoking cessation device – leaving smokers who want to quit but lack the ability to do so with no option but to continue smoking traditional cigarettes. This could sadly lead to a high mortality rate, along with a huge public expenditure for the necessary healthcare.
Thankfully, for those who are looking to quit in the UK, legislators appear to be more willing to take on the views of the scientific community. The generally held belief is that while e-cigarettes may not be a ‘perfect’ alternative for everyone, the act of vaping is at least 95% less harmful than normal cigarettes.
This view has also been echoed recently in a study carried out in late 2016 by University College London and Cancer Research UK, which found that the number of smokers who had successfully quit thanks to the use of e-cigarettes had risen to a staggering 18,000 individuals by 2015.
“England is sometimes singled out as being too positive in its attitude to e-cigarettes,” said Professor Robert West, who works for the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL.
“This data suggests that our relatively liberal regulation of e-cigarettes is probably justified.”
Stopping smoking essential for heart health
With over 100,000 deaths stemming from tobacco use in the UK each year, smoking is undoubtedly one of the biggest killers in society today – and while many blame Big Tobacco for their lobbying practices and immoral perspective in regards to placing profits above public welfare, before the introduction of e-cigarettes the medical community had few effective treatments to help smokers move away from the toxic habit.
“Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your heart health, and we know that more and more people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit,” said Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.
“What’s reassuring is this study suggests that rather than undermining people’s efforts, using e-cigarettes improves the likelihood of someone quitting.”
Traditional cigarettes have long been a drain on public healthcare resources within first world countries, no matter where you look. In the US, $170 billion a year – or 8.7% of the national healthcare budget – is spent on illnesses related to smoking tobacco each year. Across the pond, according to a study in 2009 the UK itself spends over £5 billion annually combatting the health issues associated with smoking.
A smoke-free society is slowly evolving
While smoking is a choice, it is nonetheless a habit that many feel is impossible to kick without some form of nicotine replacement therapy and/or counselling. There are however a large number of patients with other ailments who have seen the budgets for their respective treatments slashed due to a lack of funds, begging the question that if the medical community finds a way to reduce public spending on illnesses related to smoking, then why are they not more heavily promoted?
While the researchers concede that more research is necessary to establish any negative long-term effects from vaping, it is encouraging to know that with every positive study stemming from the use of e-cigarettes, the UK is slowly moving towards a smoke-free society with recent surveys showing that the country is currently enjoying the lowest number of habitual smokers ever recorded – ultimately allowing it to serve as a poster-child to other countries who restrict the availability of e-cigarettes to its citizens.