There’s no need to doubt it any longer; it’s official – if you try vaping you’re more likely to quit smoking than if you don’t. That’s what a new report appearing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) declares; the chances are e-cig users will more readily quit than non-users for at least three months. And it reveals that it’s far more likely vapers will try to quit than smokers who haven’t given e-cigs and e-juices a go.
The study at the crux of the report was conducted in the United States; surveying more than 161,000 people across 15 years of their lives, it unsurprisingly found that substantially more people there (just as we know is the case in the UK) are taking up vaping and sticking with it, something which is linked to the ‘cessation rate’ of smoking – that is, how many people who had been smokers 12 months before being surveyed had given up tobacco-packed cigarettes for at least three months.
In more precise terms, the study’s results revealed that while only 40 percent of non-vapers surveyed had tried to quit, 25 percent more (65 percent) had tried to do so while also vaping. And, as vaping increases as an activity, so too indeed do the cessation rates; more people quit in 2014-15 than in 2010-11, for example.
What the experts say
So, what do those in the know say about this study’s findings? Are they surprised? Are they heartened by what it’s shown? Well, when interviewed by science and technology news website Wired UK, Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Lead for Public Health England, commented: “This US study strongly reflects what we have seen in the UK. E-cigarettes have become the nation’s favourite quitting tool and 1.5 million vapers have stopped smoking completely.
“And while we’re seeing smoking rates fall rapidly across all ages, the steepest decline has been amongst younger adults. We encourage anyone who’s struggling to quit to try e-cigarettes. In the UK, regular vapers consist almost entirely of smokers and ex-smokers. Evidence shows only 0.3 per cent of adult vapers have never smoked.”
Success without drawbacks?
But is it all good news? Should we be treating this study’s results with any trepidation at all – is it all that it seems? Well, while the report certainly drew on the biggest sample of both e-cig users and smokers so far available, it should be pointed out that it did rely on self-report surveys, ensuring that it may not have been completely free of bias (and, therefore, a level of untruthfulness and unreliability) on the part of participants. And the study’s authors have also pointed out that anti-tobacco campaigns are playing a hugely significant role in helping smokers to quit, just as vaping is.
Additionally, a recent non-partisan research study led by staff at the University of Stirling found that, among young people, those who’ve tried an e-cig and e liquid may actually be more likely to go on and smoke conventional cigarettes than if they hadn’t.
That said, that was the first study of its kind in the UK to result in such findings and, at the same time, it was found that, between 2010 and 2016, the number of UK adult smokers aged 18-24-years-old had dropped by nearly seven percent – the largest decline of any age group (and, thus, definitely good news). And, lest we forget, the academic community is generally in agreement that e-cigarettes are less hazardous to one’s health than tobacco; therefore, whichever way you slice it, vaping can surely only be seen as a fine weapon in the battle to reduce and prevent smoking, itself the greatest avoidable cause of cancer there is.
It’s estimated there are 2.9 million UK adult vapers today
That’s a staggering increase from the 700,000 e-cig users in 2012 – which itself was an increase on the 1.4 percent of smokers that also vaped in 2010
Currently, 1.5 million UK vapers are ex-smokers (52 percent), versus 1.3 million who are also smoking (45 percent)
Vapers who are ex-smokers say they primarily took up e-cigs in order to quit smoking; current smokers who also vape claim their main motivation for using e-cigs is to reduce their tobacco-driven cigarette usage
In 2015, 31 percent of smokers believed e-cigs were ‘a lot less harmful’ than smoking; for better or worse, that figure now stands at 20 percent.