Trying smokeless cigarettes is one of the approaches to the health issues posed by smoking, suggested in the first annual report released by the Cabinet’s behavioural health unit also called Nudge. “Nearly a quarter of all deaths are smoking related “says the Nudge unit. Nudge is suggesting some unique approaches to cut down that alarming figure, and limit the harm tobacco can cause to the smoker as well as those around them.

smokeless cigarettes nudge unitThis comes after a statement from Minister for Government Policy in the Cabinet Office Oliver Letwin saying that heavy-handed legislation is unlikely to work when addressing lifestyle choices which negatively affect health, including smoking.

Main Points for Trying Smokeless Cigarettes According To Nudge

•    It is easier to substitute a behaviour than to completely eradicate a negative behaviour
•    Most smokers know they should quit and many want to but have failed
•    “Quit or Die” approaches work for only some long term smokers while the rest continue to smoke.
•    The cost in smoking related illnesses is over£2.5 billion a year

The Nudge unit stated that studies have shown that it is more difficult to completely eradicate a bad habit than to substitute a less harmful one. Reducing the harm to the smoker and themselves is a policy that has been actively avoided by many governments worldwide. The UK has been numbered among the countries adopting the “quit smoking or die’ approach for years. Nudge psychologists and sociologists suggest trying electronic cigarettes when the smoker can’t or won’t quit.

There are approximately 8 million adult smokers in the UK. Smoking related illnesses cost the National Health System over £2.5 billion a year.  

However smoking cessation programs receive less than £150 million a year. Trying smokeless cigarettes is by no means the only new approach to smoking cessation suggested by the Nudge unit. However, it marks a significant change in attitude. Smokeless cigarettes have been banned in many countries with the reasoning that anything less than quitting nicotine all together is unacceptable. Nicotine patches, gum and inhalers are unattractive to most smokers and sold only for limited periods so they can quit. If the smoker fails to quit they often return to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Most smokers know that smoking is bad for them. Most smokers have tried to quit smoking multiple times. Some succeed, but all too many fail and resume the cigarette habit. For those smokers who fail and who can’t or will not yet give up smoking, the Nudge Unit suggests trying a nicotine replacement device, including smokeless cigarettes.  Although the Cabinet’s behavioural insight group doesn’t encourage smoking, they deal with the psychology of healthy choices. Substituting a less harmful behaviour for smoking, such as an attractively packaged and satisfying smokeless cigarette has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives a year.

Smoking was number one on the Nudge Unit’s first annual report of unhealthy lifestyle choices that significantly affect UK citizen’s health. The nicotine habit is notoriously difficult to break. Smokers often try expensive or outright medieval means of breaking this addiction. Some eventually give up and say “I will smoke until I die”.  The Cabinet’s Behavioural Insight unit’s report addressed changes in smoking cessation programs as well as means to aid the long term smoker isn’t ready to quit.

Smokeless Cigarettes Meet the Criteria

Smokeless cigarettes meet the criteria established by the Nudge unit of an attractively packaged nicotine delivery system. Such a system the Nudge unit theorizes can help substitute a deadly behaviour like smoking with a less harmful means of delivering nicotine to the smoker. The psychological component to puffing on smokeless cigarettes helps contribute to the smoker’s incentive to continue to avoid tobacco cigarettes.

The Nudge Unit’s first annual report included changes in how individuals opt in for organ donation. They suggest changing the method to one where the individual opts out. The Nudge unit is living up to their name by making it easier to make healthy choices in areas such as smoking, drinking, becoming more active and even paying your taxes.  Living in a free society, one can’t create laws that require individuals to exercise regularly, eat healthy meals or avoid drinking or smoking. The Nudge Unit has acknowledged this fact, and focuses upon making those healthy choices easier or more attractive.

What This Report Could Mean For Smokeless Cigarettes in the UK

Smokeless cigarettes are legal in the UK. Because they make no health claims they can be sold freely, as opposed to the tight regulations that would be required if a manufacturer claimed that smokeless cigarettes were healthy or would help you quit smoking. The MHRA (Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) is currently examining smokeless cigarettes and their potential safety for use. Should they find in favor of these devices then the government could push to have them placed in shops right beside tobacco products and sold more cheaply than tobacco cigarettes.

If approved by the MHRA, smokeless cigarettes might be able to make health claims. Right now, individuals who have chosen smokeless electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking, do so because they feel personally it is a healthier choice than inhaling the multiple carcinogens contained in burning tobacco, or they prefer the ability to puff in public places. It might also mean more governmental oversight and standardization of nicotine levels in smokeless cigarettes.

Critics of the Nudge Unit’s report on smokeless cigarettes feel that the government is attempting to coddle the average citizen too much. Other critics feel that an attractive nicotine replacement solution that was easily available might deter some smokers from quitting. Still other critics feel that anything less than totally quitting smoking is not acceptable and according to a few, eventually all the smokers will die out.

These critics usually ignore the incredible cost in human lives and in money caused by smoking tobacco cigarettes. Smoking cessation programs will benefit from new approaches to quitting suggested by the Nudge Unit . Individuals who are unable or unwilling to quit can benefit from the smokeless cigarettes substitute, if the proposed changes in direction are implemented.


What Are Your Thoughts on the Nudge Units Report On Smokeless Cigarettes

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  1. I am a 66 year old male . I smoked all my life until 12 months ago when I tried an intellicig smokeless cig. With in a week I had stopped smoking and have not had a normal cigarette in 12 months.


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