A great number of people have moved over from smoking to vaping, a well-recognised cleaner, safer and healthier alternative to smoking. There are however still many, too many experts say, individuals choosing to smoke and part of that reason is that strict regulations around e cigarettes makes the idea of switching less attractive.
Making the switch from smoking to vaping less attractive only benefits those who are making money from cigarettes. It certainly does nothing to support smokers who are quite literally dying in order to continue their smoking habit. By relaxing rules surrounding vaping, such as those put in place governing the nicotine strengths in e liquid, vaping becomes something with fewer restrictions and therefore is something smokers are more likely to investigate, hopefully giving up their harmful smoking habit in the meantime.
Experts have also reported to the House of Common’s Science and Technology Select Committee that by relaxing the current restrictions, many of which were put in place via the TPD regulations in May 2017, and allowing vendors to sell e liquids in larger refill sizes would again help make the case for moving over. Smaller refill sizes mean more frequent purchases, makes e liquids less affordable (though still much more affordable than tobacco cigarettes!) and of course also results in more waste (more containers). Professor Riccardo Polosa from the Internal Medicine Department at the Italian University of Catania was firm on the fact that allowing e juices to be sold in larger refills would make vaping significantly more attractive to those looking to also save money by switching.
With the current restriction level on nicotine strengths being capped at 20mg, smokers who have been used to higher nicotine amounts and were heavier smokers would find that they would have to vape significantly more to get the same effect. It is worth bearing in mind that when choosing vaping it is entirely possible to alter your nicotine level, as many do, dropping it down gradually to a lower level or even to zero percent nicotine content. There are e liquids with all strengths currently available so relaxing the strength limit cap does not necessarily mean that those switching to vaping would decide to stay at that higher level. It might just, however, help them successfully switch over to vaping fully, giving up what is a very harmful habit that causes much damage to health.
There are some who, whether they were pro-Brexit or staunch Remainers, hope that now the UK is heading towards a break with the EU that the restrictions governing vaping will also be revised. The UK Vaping Industry Association CEO, Christian Mulcany reported these same hopes to The Telegraph newspaper on the day of the hearing.
There are so many reason why vaping is the better choice. Public Health England, the government department
responsible for the Go Smoke Free ban which saw smoking banned in the majority of public places, including on public transport, have become staunch advocates of vaping as an alternative to smoking. They (PHE) reported back in 2015 that studies showed that vaping was at least ninety-five percent better for an individual than smoking. In addition to this, PHE publicly showed support by listing e cigarettes as a valid cessation device on their 2017 Stoptober public health campaign materials.
As well as being immediately better for smokers who choose to give up smoking completely and choose instead to vape, there are economic and environmental issues surrounding the popularity of vaping which makes it additionally attractive. Vaping is cheaper in the long run, significantly cheaper for some, as well as being cleaner. There is much evidence surrounding the environmental cost of cigarette-related littering as well as the cost of smoking to the NHS. In addition to this you have organisations such as the London Fire Brigade telling people publicly that vaping is the better choice because of the huge numbers of fires caused by smoking and the fatalities as opposed to very few instances of fire/damage and no fatalities with vaping.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have over time classified a number of the chemical components found within tobacco cigarettes as well both toxic and having the potential to cause cancer. Professor Polosa has gone on, as part of his support for the call to reduce restrictions, to state there is no evidence that e cigarettes, e liquids or vaping cause cancer at all. There has also been a number of studies which show that there is no risk to anyone passive vaping while studies show that those passive smoking are as much at risk of health problems due to cigarette smokers as smokers themselves.
Vaping has also been proven to be a tool that is much more likely to help smokers quit, particularly where other more traditional methods have failed in the past. This alone is one of the reasons why making vaping easier to access and subject to fewer restrictions should, and we hope is being considered when looking at whether current rules in place should be relaxed.
Clearly vaping is helping people to quit smoking. That much is given. It has been proven to be healthier, to be cleaner and is something that NHS trusts, health professionals, cancer and health charities and even government departments such as the PHE have publicly supported as an alternative to smoking. Here’s hoping then when the next session to discuss the future of e cigarettes in the Commons is held (February – date to be confirmed) that committee members have been able to assimilate the undeniable proof that vaping is much preferred over smoking, and that they see that the restrictions currently in place could be reducing the numbers moving over to vaping, therefore maintain the number continuing to smoke when there is a much healthier alternative available.
We’ll report back when we hear more about what the decision-makers have to say. As far as we are concerned here at GoSmokeFree, MPs have a duty to make decisions to protect the health and wellbeing of their constituents. Voting to relax the strict restrictions currently governing e cigarettes and vaping would indeed be in their best interests.