Are ecigs leading to a drop in smoking

Are Electronic Cigarettes Killing Smoking?

A recent study concluded that electronic cigarettes don’t help people quit smoking.

There was only one problem with the study. Instead of asking a range of people if ecigarettes had worked for them, they only asked people who had tried to quit smoking and failed.

As Professor Peter Hajek pointed out:

“The authors concluded that EC was not helpful, but that would be true for any treatment however effective if only treatment failures were evaluated.”

Source: Science Media Center

Given that:

1. Some commissioned studies are either biased or mis-reported.

2. While there are many thousands of anecdotal success stories, US anti-smoking campaigners insist these are not relevant.

3. British anti-smoking campaigners like public health chief John Ashton are spending abusing ecigarette users online rather than giving data driven advice to smokers and vapers:

Twitter meltdown. There is clearly a need to look at real world data.

Smoking Rates v. Ecigarette Usage

Action on Smoking and Health figures show that in the few short years ecigs have become popular, they have succeeded in getting 700,000 smokers (around 7% of the total based on an estimated 10 million smokers in the UK) to stop using tobacco cigarettes, with a further 1,400,000 smokers using both ecigarettes and tobacco cigarettes.

quiteffect500The success of electronic cigarettes is particularly impressive if we compare it more directly to the success of the NHS:

NHS and ecig success

NHS helped 1.5 percent of people quit. ECigs helped 7 percent of people switch from tobacco

Since 2001, the NHS have only assisted around 1.5% of smokers to stop smoking, compared to around 7% of smokers who have switched completely to electronic cigarettes.

Unfortunately, data doesn’t exist for those who have completely given up both smoking and vaping through the use of ecigarettes, although we are aware these people exist.

Dual Users of Ecigarettes and Cigarettes: One Year On

In fact, the success rate of electronic cigarettes is likely to be even greater than the previous graphs show.

That’s because research published in Science Direct suggests that 46% of dual users will go on to stop using tobacco cigarettes entirely.

Pie chart showing the percentage of dual users and vapers one year on. Yet NHS quit smoking staff in Gloucester have been advising our customers not to use ecigs.

Presumably on the basis they should exclusively use the NHS stop smoking service instead.

Which, obviously, comes at a cost:

Image showing how much the NHS quit smoking service has cost smokers. The NHS quit smoking staff also advised our customers that electronic cigarettes were full of toxins, while another customer claimed to have medical advice that ecigarettes are worse than tobacco cigarettes

Yet not only are ecigarettes more effective at helping smokers than the NHS, scientists such as Professor Polosa tell us they offer a huge health benefit to smokers who can’t quit nicotine entirely:

Quote from Professor Polosa, assigns a health risk to smoking of 100 and a health risk of 4 to vaping. (Some NHS staff have proved more enlightened, as this guest post by Louise Ross shows.)

More Smokers Quitting

Over the last few decades there has been a huge fall in smoking rates, but in recent years the number of people quitting has plateaued.

At least, until ecigarettes started to become popular. In the last few years, the percentage of smokers stopping tobacco use has seen a jump.

successatt500While the success rate for individual smokers trying to quit has also increased:

quit500Unfortunately, we don’t have the breakdown of the quit smoking methods used, and obviously there are other factors which effect the smoking rate (such as the increase in taxes). However, we’re not the only people to suspect a connection.

Deborah Arnott of ASH England argues:

Arnott quote on smoking ecigs. (On a side note, Deborah supports ecigs but unfortunately also supported EU regulations which would mean an effective ban on refillable ecigs and mods.)

Falling Cigarette Sales

As you might expect, all this is leading to falling cigarette sales.

Image showing the percent decrease in cigarette sales. In fact, when we advertised a job recently we were surprised to see a marketing executive from one of the big tobacco companies applying.

We asked him why he wanted to leave his current company, and he told us:

The tobacco industry is dying – everyone is leaving.

With ecigs appearing to help so many smokers, the real question is why the EU, the Welsh and Scottish governments and the pharmaceutical industry are doing everything they can to hinder ecigarettes.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Data Sources:

1. Smoking Statistics (ASH England)
2. Use of Electronic Cigarettes in Great Britain (ASH England)
3. The Jewel in the Crown (Velvet Glove Iron Fist).
4. A Longitudinal Study of ECigarette Users (Science Direct)
5. Smoking in England
6. Tobacco Industry Factsheet (ASH UK)

Leave a comment:

4 thoughts on “Are Electronic Cigarettes Killing Smoking?

  1. As a quiting aid, e cigs are a alternative to smoking so if people do quit from using them then good luck to them people. E cigs are a choice and not there to help you quit. For anyone who has quit smoking but still enjoys vaping has to be better off without putting over 4000 chemicals into there body with every cigarette they smoke.

  2. I smoked cigarettes for 40 years and during that time, tried to quit many times: cold turkey, gum, patches, inhaler etcetera, all attempts were unsuccessful.
    Two years ago, I tried electronic cigarettes and within a couple of months, gave up the dreadful weed completely.
    I am richer and much healthier.
    They worked for me, my daughter, two friends and my Aunt. What more can I say?

  3. Smoking rates in Australia are apparently at their lowest ever, according to recent Treasury statistics. Government and media attribute this to tax increases and plain packaging laws, yet remain predictably silent on e-cigarettes and how they may fit into the equation.

    It’s probably a combination of factors but, as in the UK, there’s no way to know how much credit should go to each one. I suspect that the “sin tax” on tobacco (Australia’s is among the highest in the world) is a big part of what’s pushing smokers toward the far more affordable option of vaping.

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