Amid all the ongoing confusion over whether vaping — using electronic cigarettes and the e-liquid they contain — is actually better for your health than smoking, the air is finally starting to clear. While some countries have banned vaping and others are not sure what to say about it, the United Kingdom has taken a firm stance: it's way better than smoking, and smokers should make the change immediately.
Horrified by the endless and needlessly wasted lives due to cigarette smoking, a growing number of countries around the world are implementing programs to go smoke-free in the coming years. Globally, smoking kills about 7 million people a year, around 1 million of whom were never smokers but inhaled secondhand smoke. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and health authorities are doing all they can to try and get people to stop smoking. Vaping is leading the way, in some countries at least — most notably Britain.
The UK is aiming to go smoke-free by 2022, and drastically reduce the current smoking mortality rate of around 100,000 people each year in the various parts of the four-nation country: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Officials say that, even today, there exists a great deal of misinformation about the harmful effects of smoking — and that people are generally not all that aware of the health benefits they can gain by switching from cigarettes to e-cigs.
Nicotine Without the Harm
"It’s of great concern that smokers still have such a poor understanding about what causes the harm from smoking," said Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, at the launch of a revised advisory on vaping issued by government agency Public Health England (PHE) earlier this year. "When people smoke tobacco cigarettes, they inhale a lethal mix of 7,000 smoke constituents, 70 of which are known to cause cancer," she said.
Professor McNeill added that people only smoke for the nicotine, but that the substance causes "little if any of the harm" from smoking. McNeill also said e-cigarettes, which are easily available from a vape store online, deliver the nicotine smokers want but none of the toxic chemicals that lead to cancers and other potentially fatal diseases.
Also in the same vaping advisory, PHE's director of Health Improvement, John Newton, said a lack of information for smokers was proving to be a major concern. "Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know," he said.
"It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety," he added.
Vaping Awareness UK
Indeed, the UK’s vaping sector, which is believed to be worth in the region of £1 billion, has been trying to get the message out that smokers should switch to e-cigarettes and become healthier as a result. In April, it held the country’s first ever vaping awareness and education month — called VApril — and got a leading TV doctor to front the campaign and drive home the message.
Information about the health benefits of vaping compared to smoking was made widely available, and free “vaping masterclasses” were held at vape stores around the UK. VApril carried this powerful and encouraging message: "If 1.5m UK smokers can quit through vaping, you can too." The TV medic, Dr Christian Jessen, said he was delighted to help promote e-cigarettes in an attempt to get people off tobacco.
"I personally believe vaping has overwhelming potential to help smokers break their habit, and this is important because stopping smoking is the single most significant step that people can make to improve their health," he said.