What the UK government’s new anti-smoking initiative could mean for vaping
On July 18, the British government rolled out its plans to curb the smoking rate in England from 15.5% to 12% by 2022, with an added focus to cut pregnant and teenage smoking rates in half.
First revealed by the Department of Health in March 2011 and only recently enacted, the Tobacco Control Plan will follow already existing methods of tobacco smoking reduction which have proven successful, such as high taxation and plain packaging.
Anti-smoking campaigners, advisers and politicians have been emboldened by the results of the 2007 smoking ban. With ten years of posterity and figures to reflect upon, the numbers are clear. We now live in a country that has seen heart disease deaths fall by 20% smoking fall to 19% (the second lowest rate in Europe) and vapers grow to three million strong.
Vaping is also now a billion-pound business. With more than half of surveyed smokers expressing a desire to quit (and attempting to, albeit unsuccessfully) and more than half of vapers now counted as former smokers, we have sealed our identity as the best outlet for people in the former category.
The updated, 32-page report, “Towards a Smokefree Generation,” has taken things one step further, with page 15 explicitly mentioning vaping as a safer alternative:
“The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit smoking. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco. The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products.”
The report also cites Public Health England’s prominent support for vaping, including criticism of policies classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products:
“Public Health England has produced guidance for employers and organisations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public and recommend such policies to be evidence-based. PHE recommends that e-cigarette use is not covered by smoke free legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy…The government will therefore continue to evaluate critically the evidence on nicotine delivery products.”
Proponents of the Tobacco Control Plan have also vocalised a wish to achieve a smoke-free NHS by 2020.
The rise of vaping both aids and benefits from smoking’s decline. With a continued shrinkage of the tobacco market guaranteed, and with vaping established as the refuge for smokers, the Plan could allow major progress in British vaping.