Vaping May Be Slowing Down But Number of Smokers Falling

England could be completely smoke free by 2051 thanks in part to e-cigarettes according to a new study.

And as smoking numbers continues to fall the UK Government could reach its 5% target of smokers in the population as early as 2040.

However the study has been funded by Big Tobacco giant Phillip Morris Inc who are continuing to ply their heat not burn tobacco based products as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes.

smoke free england

It could be a genuine concern for the damage the tobacco industry has done to the health of the world’s smokers over the decades that PMI are front and centre of this kind of research – or clever PR and marketing.

I’m more on the side of ‘clever PR’ but hey I’ll keep an open mind – but given far less is known about the safety of heat not burn products compared to e-cigarettes – I still view anything coming from Big Tobacco with a large dose of skepticism.

Indeed my skepticism is in line with many other organizations and those far more knowledgeable than me about such matters.

As I reported in the article The Vape Debate – the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Steve Brine MP – said on the subject of heat not burn devices:

Two heat-not-burn products have been notified for use on the UK market as novel tobacco products. It is important to stress that, even in comparison with e-cigarettes, that market is relatively new and very small-scale in the UK. We simply do not know enough about those products.

Heat Not Burn Devices – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

These kind of devices have been around since 1988 – the first being the R.J. Reynolds Premier however Phillip Morris’ IQOS launched in 2014 are the most well know.

There hasn’t been many studies carried out on the safety of these devices – the most recent being by – yeah you guessed it – Phillip Morris’ own scientists.

So hopefully you can see why many of us are skeptical of heat not burn products and the spin being used by Big Tobacco companies such as PMI which literally points to putting themselves out of the smoking/tobacco industry worth countless billions.

smoke free world foundation

Like I said I’m skeptical as to their true motives – I mean they’re behind the multi-billion dollar Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

On their website they do explain why they’re ‘getting out’ of the cigarette business:

We’ve built the world’s most successful cigarette company, with the world’s most popular and iconic brands.

Now we’ve made a dramatic decision.

We will be far more than a leading cigarette company. We’re building PMI’s future on smoke-free products that are a much better choice than cigarette smoking.Indeed, our vision – for all of us at PMI – is that these products will one day replace cigarettes.

Why are we doing this?

We understand the millions of men and women who smoke cigarettes. They are looking for less harmful, yet satisfying, alternatives to smoking. We will give them that choice.

We have a commitment to our employees and our shareholders. We will fulfill that commitment by pursuing this long-term vision for success.

Society expects us to act responsibly. And we are doing just that by designing a smoke-free future.

Ummm…all very laudable – we’ll wait and see…

Smoking Rates Fall as New E-Cig User Numbers Tumble

OK the study does bring up a few interesting points including as we know smoking rates have been in decline for many years however since 2012 the numbers have declined at twice the rate.

The study found this fall will not continue as quickly given they say the numbers of folks moving to e-cigarettes and vaping is drastically slowing down.

A study by ASH [Action on Smoking and Health] found there was only 100,000 new vapers in 2017, compared with 800,000 in 2014.

perception of safety of ecigs

Now as I’ve said many times in the past much of this is down to the extremely negative media portrayal of vaping and e-cigs as well as heavily promoted fake science [backed by Big Tobacco maybe?] and indeed the reluctance early on of some health organizations to support the benefits of e-cigs.

Whilst the likes of ASH are now a little more supportive – their earlier anti-e-cig stance certainly helped feed the negativity and has resulted in 13% of the population believing [wrongly] that e-cigs are more harmful than regular cigarettes in 2017 compared to 5% in 2012.

I find that a staggering number but it is something I see and hear whenever the subject of me being a vaper comes up.

It’s thanks to the continued media scare stories that on the whole go unchecked by ‘experts’ that has led to this ‘urban myth’.

This is again a topic covered in the recent Vape Debate and I for one hope the MPs will begin not only holding the media to account for their shameful fake news vaping stories – but start redressing the balance with a more positive spin on e-cigs.

Useful Findings

Anyway back to the report findings lol…

On the subject of e-cigarettes and vaping researchers found that :

  • 97% of e-cigarette users (‘vapers’) in Great Britain are former or current smokers.
  • Only 3% of e-cigarette users in GB have never smoked.
  • While the number of new e-cigarette users in GB has been slowing, a higher proportion of e-cigarette users have converted to sole use.
  • In 2017, for the first time, the majority of current e-cigarette users in GB are ex-smokers (52%). Over 1.5 million current e-cigarette users in GB have stopped smoking entirely.
  • If all 1.5 million GB e-cigarette users were still smoking instead, prevalence would be 3.4 percentage points higher. However we recognise that some of these smokers would have attempted to quit in any case, albeit with less success than using e-cigarettes.
  • The Department of Health (2017) estimated that in 2016 2 million consumers in England had used e-cigarettes at some point to stop smoking completely.

smoke free uk 2040

The study also re-iterates the key points of vaping being considerably less harmful than smoking – please use these bullet points to counter any arguments to the contrary you may be faced with 😉

  • Public Health England (PHE) published an independent review (McNeill et al, 2015) of the on the role and impact of e-cigarettes. Their review concluded that the best estimates show e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than combustible cigarettes. This estimate draws principally on Nutt et al (2014) which used an international expert panel to estimate relative harm of e-cigarettes.
  • A separate report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP, 2015) came to the same conclusion. They agree that the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes currently available is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco. Also, the authors note that technological developments and improved production standards could reduce the long-term hazard of e-cigarettes in the future.
  • McNeill et al (2015) consider the potential effects of passive vaping. Based on a review of existing evidence they conclude that e-cigarettes release negligible levels of nicotine into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.
  • Hess et al (2016) also undertake a systematic review of the literature on passive use of e-cigarettes and conclude that the current evidence shows the potential for health impacts from passive exposure to vapours from e-cigarettes, but that the risk is likely to be lower than from combustible cigarettes.

Final Thoughts

This study doesn’t really bring anything new to the table but given it’s received a ton of media attention it has succeeded in lining PMI up with the company’s vision for a smoke free future.

Indeed more than anything it has given a platform to the company’s heat not burn products so the PR department has to be congratulated for a job well done.

So has the poacher turned gamekeeper?

I’m a cynical old sod and whilst any move to reduce the number of smokers in the world has to be a good thing for health reasons – I still can’t get away from wondering what I’m missing here…

Look if these heat not burn products are found – through independent research – to be on par with e-cigarettes as far as health benefits go then no worries.

But until we see studies carried out by experts other than those in the employ of PMI I’m afraid the skepticism is strong in this old sod 😉

Especially within the results they make a point the number of new vapers is slowing down – dare I suggest reading between the lines they’re maybe suggesting their heat not burn devices are the new black?

Slap my wrist and call me a cynic…

You can read the FULL REPORT HERE

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Neil H

I began vaping over 5 years ago and found it easy to give up a 40 per day roll-up habit!

Current set-up : Yosta Livepor 160w + Augvape Merlin RTA – JacVapour DNA 75 + Nautilus 2 for MTL – RX200S + Doge III or Merlin Mini on desktop when working – others at a whim :)

A former journalist, I’m now a freelance copywriter – blogger and author.

I’m an Army veteran – love dogs – camping – traveling and never happier than with a good book on a beach.

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