Steve Brine, former Public Health Minister and current MP for Winchester, has written a glowing article praising e-cigarettes as a crucial tool to help England achieve the goal of being smokefree by 2030.
Are e-cigarettes the key to a smokefree future?
As Health Minister, Steve Brine was involved in bringing in a number of harm reduction strategies to help adults become smokefree, and minimise the uptake of smoking in young people. However, he explains that a year after the Government announced plans to make England smokefree by 2030, they have yet to detail what is being done to achieve these goals, leading to concerns we may miss the target.
Brine suggests that e-cigarettes may be the tool to help England reach the smokefree targets;
“Vaping could play a crucial role in reducing smoking rates, providing smokers with an effective tool to quit altogether.”
As the vaping industry continues to grow, it has become obvious that e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation tool. Brine advises that building a stronger partnership between the vaping industry and the Government could be extremely beneficial;
“The UK vaping industry, estimated to be worth more than £1 billion to the economy, can be a valuable partner in helping deliver on the Governments objective and address the smoking cessation plateau.”
Not only have millions of Britons successfully quit smoking with the help of an e-cigarette, but vaping has also been found to be much more effective than other widely available nicotine therapies that the Government have been investing money in for years. Brine goes on to explain;
“Vape products were almost twice as effective as patches and gum – known as nicotine replacement therapies – at helping smokers to quit.”
This is in reference to a clinical trial by the Queen Mary University of London, which found that e-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gum. Stop smoking clinics have also reported similar findings, and many have made the move to train practitioners on e-cigarettes and e-liquids so clients can be well informed about their options and have the best chance at a successful quit.
Smokefree 2030 is a Government strategy with the aim to reach a point where smoking is no longer normalized in society and smoking rates are 5% or less. Smoking rates in the UK are declining every year, and have reached an all time low, however, smoking remains to leaving cause of premature death.
Some people have raised the question, why not just make smoking illegal?
The Government has made it clear that their goal is to help smokers quit, not to criminalise them. Bhutan made smoking illegal in 2004 and rather than making people quit, it actually had the opposite effect. Smoking rates in Bhutan have increased, and there is now a thriving black market for tobacco with links to increased organized crime.
So far, by introducing new ways to regulate tobacco, such as the recent ban on menthol cigarettes and the introduction of plain packaging, England has been successful in dropping smoking rates and reducing uptake in young people, we now have the lowest proportion of adult smokers in the EU!
However, research shows that in order for smoking rates to continue to decline and not plateau, new strategies and policies need to continue to be introduced, and existing ones updated and improved.
The UK is a global leader in the regulation for vaping products, and there is a wealth of research supporting the benefits they hold as a smoking cessation tool. As Steve Brine states;
“If the question is ‘should non-smokers start vaping?’ the answer should be and will remain no. But if we’re talking about smokers ho are struggling to quit, then vaping is undoubtably one of the better options in their toolkit.”
Hopefully in the near future we will see Government and vaping industry working collaboratively to move towards our aim of a smokefree future.