English E-cig Success: One Smoker Quits Every 80 Seconds
Almost 400,000 English smokers quit last year - that’s one every 80 seconds.
As the country prepares for ‘Stoptober,’ health experts say that quitters using e-cigarettes and local support services have a 63% chance of success.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Although new smokers have taken up the habit and some ex-smokers have relapsed, there are now one million fewer smokers in England since 2014.
Now, Public Health England (PHE), the Government’s health agency, is encouraging more smokers to get help.
One in six of England’s 6.1 million smokers wants to quit, PHE says, but most try to go ‘cold turkey,’ which is the least effective method.
“The best way to quit is with expert help from local stop smoking services together with stop smoking aids. In 2017 to 2018, half (51%) of smokers who got this package of support managed to quit and among those who used an e-cigarette in their quit attempt, the success rate was up to 63%,” the health agency said in a statement.
E-cigarettes are clearly an important weapon in the quitters tool chest. There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes can help people manage their nicotine cravings and eventually quit.
In England, electronic cigarettes have become the nation’s favorite stop-smoking aid, with an estimated 3.2 million adult users.
The proportion of e-cigarette users who are ex-smokers has increased and over half (52%) of current vapers have stopped smoking completely.
Another 900,000 people have given up smoking and vaping.
Jeremy Kyle, a popular talk-show television host with shows in the UK and the United States gave up a 35-year smoking habit thanks to vaping.
“I was a 20 a day smoker for most of my life and am proud to say I quit smoking earlier this year. I’ve tried many times in the past to quit but nothing really worked for me,” the TV host said.
He continued: “The thing that is really helping me stay smokefree is vaping. I’m currently on the lowest nicotine strength and will then come off the e-cigarette altogether when the time is right for me.”
When it comes to vape policy, there is a huge public health divide between the UK and the US.
In the US, researchers have focused on the harms of e-cigarettes, while experts in the UK have concentrated on their ability to help people quit cigarettes.
The gap is clear when we look at regulation in the two countries. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to approve e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking aid, PHE has encouraged and campaigned for their use.
Earlier this year, PHE conducted a new independent e-cigarette evidence review which concluded that vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking.
Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE said: “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.
“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.”
PHE has even launched TV adverts encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes - a far cry from recent FDA adverts designed to discourage youth vaping. Experts have criticised the FDA ads for being ineffective and their potential to put adults smokers off vaping.
UK politicians have also promoted the benefits of e-cigarettes. In April, a group of MPs argued that e-cigarette rules should be relaxed so the products can be more widely used and accepted in society.
Among other things, they called for a relaxation on the rules governing e-cigarette advertising and a public debate on vaping in public places, such as in offices and on public transport.
Norman Lamb, the chair of the science and technology committee of MPs, said: “Concerns that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young non-smokers, have not materialised.
“If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS's stop-smoking arsenal.”