Leading health experts believe they are witnessing an unnecessary tragedy
Whilst the state of vaping in the UK still has room for improvement, we are setting the gold standard for vaping advocacy and tobacco harm reduction. A well-regulated industry, advocated by leading health experts and backed by the government is surely the way forward. Do the WHO and the USA realise this but have their own agendas, or are they simply blind to the success of vaping?
Either way, there is a clear missed opportunity on a global scale and experts are pitting it as an unnecessary tragedy.
Over the past decade, the UK has made huge inroads in tackling smoking rates. Smoking prevalence in our country has now dropped to just 14.4%, the second lowest in Europe. Much of the success has been attributed to e-cigarettes but other countries are failing to capitalise on vaping’s potential.
A recent well-balanced article in The Guardian goes into great depth regarding the current state of vaping; comparing the attitudes to vaping in the USA, with those observed here in the UK. The item’s title poses the question ‘are e-cigarettes saving smokers or creating new addicts?’
After exploring in great detail, a number of poignant vaping topics and citing key anti-smoking activists, the author, Sarah Boseley suggests that the actions of the World Health Organisation (WHO) “may leave the UK isolated, a lone bastion where (highly regulated) vaping is actually encouraged in the hopes of cutting smoking rates.”
The UK is recognised by many as a world leader in terms of tobacco control but with WHO’s encouragement, countries are not only failing to follow in our footsteps but are actually going the opposite way and discouraging e-cigarettes.
“An unnecessary tragedy?”
Boseley goes on to state,
“Many public Health experts in the UK believe they are witnessing an unnecessary tragedy, and that failure to promote the most promising method of helping people quit smoking is endangering the lives of millions.”
The suggestion of a tragedy is well-founded as the countries which are generally anti-vaping tend to have significantly higher smoking rates than those which embrace e-cigarettes and impose sensible regulation. These are the countries which need the most help but are frustratingly neglecting the most effective quitting aid known – e-cigarettes.
For example, the latest figures show that in India, where vaping is banned, smoking rates are sky high at 34.6% of adults. Moreover, in Thailand male adult smoking rates surpass 40%. Low and behold, e-cigarettes are banned in the south-east Asian country. The perhaps more concerning point to draw is that these smoking rates have remained stagnant, despite the apparent efforts of government tobacco control initiatives. These are not isolated examples, the vast majority of countries with concerning smoking rates tend to employ draconian vaping regulation and fail to acknowledge the potential of e-cigarettes.
The Gold Standard for Tobacco Harm Reduction
Countries which, like the UK, fully endorse the use of e-cigarettes unfortunately come at a bit of a premium. However, the few that have embraced tobacco harm reduction have seen astounding success. First up is New Zealand. New Zealand is well ahead of the curve in terms of tobacco control. Since 2011, adult smoking rates have dropped from around 20% to an all-time low of 12.5%. It is therefore clear that the New Zealand Health Department is serious about tobacco control. In 2017, the country stepped up its battle against tobacco and began to embrace vaping. At that point the smoking rates was at 16%. Within just three years, the decline has been rapid, correlating with the endorsement of vaping.
The USA has also seen an impressive decline in smoking rates since the introduction of e-cigarettes. In 2018, prevalence sat at 13.7%; a significant fall from the 19.9% in 2010. This ties in with the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes between 2012 and 2018.
However, we can unfortunately predict that these rates will begin to rise again in the States. Over the past few years, draconian regulation has been phased in across the pond. Since the misleading news of ‘vaping-related’ illnesses, the government has been gifted with an excuse to introduce detrimental legislation.
E-cigarettes were providing a holy grail for American smokers, even without the help of the US government. The US certainly does have some vaping advocates but the officials who have the final say, seem dead set against them. The motive behind this could be speculated but the bottom line is that the vaping industry has hit a downward spiral in the States and will take some serious action for it to recover.