Has Quit Smoking Message Reached its Peak?

Ecigarettes Potential to Reduce Harm is Significant


Recently a writer in the Independent asked this very question… has the UK's anti-smoking effort reached its peak?


The stats look like this: smoking in the UK has dropped from 45% of adults in the 1970s to just less than 16% in 2015.  Which is good, but that’s still 9.1 million smokers. And according to the article, quit rates are in decline too.


When the banning, taxation and education messages are largely the same they are bound to become part of life’s noise.  And there is a limit to the power these messages can carry after 40 years.  Furthermore, as the author very correctly points out, that some people don’t want to quit; others can’t.  So is the government's vision of a smoke free generation a realistic one?


A Different Approach – The Ecigarette Breakthrough


A recent report on ecigarettes, commissioned by Public Health England, showed that ecigarettes are an effective means to stop smoking, and seeks to dispel many of the myths about vaping.  And it’s part of a growing body of evidence that suggest the harm reduction potential of ecigarettes.


“However, the report raises serious concerns about public misunderstanding of the risks and benefits of ecigarette use,” ASH said in a statement. “Millions of smokers wrongly think that vaping is as harmful as smoking. Around 40% of current smokers have never tried ecigarettes. And fewer than one in ten adults know that most of the health damage caused by smoking comes from the by-products of cigarette combustion, and not from the nicotine content.”


Nicotine is still demonised, despite nicotine (in the small quantities served by ecigarettes) being similar to the caffeine in a cup of coffee in terms of it’s effects.  And even in a progressive environment such as the UK, nicotine containing eliquids are legislated, whereas the non-nicotine varieties don’t fall under the specific legislation designed to regulate eliquids. IN theory the non-regulated vape could contain any number of harmful elements.

The big tobacco corporations have all embraced ecigarettes, with Philip Morris International even going as far as taking out adverts supporting its claim that it wants to ‘Stop Selling Cigarettes’ as part of a smoke-free future. Many anti-smoking charities see moves such as these as merely a PR stunt, however, and for companies like PMI the numbers stack up.  Forbes reported that their smokeless IQOS device drove up sales of the company’s new-generation smoking products to nearly $1 billion in the last quarter of 2017, from $200 million just a year previously.


But it hasn’t all gone their way.  The US Food and Drug Administration recently rejected PMI’s attempts to get IQOS registered specifically as a harm reduction device in America.   And PMI is trying this in various international markets. If successful, the reclassification from tobacco product to health product would also mean lower taxes and less restrictions.


And each big tobacco company has its own heat not burn product – Japan Tobacco has Ploom Tech, GLO from British American Tobacco.


According to Public Health England 20,000 people quit smoking with the help of ecigarettes each year.  And key findings from PHE’s report state that vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits. Furthermore ecigarette use comes with improved quit success rates over the last year and a decline in smoking rates across the country.