54,000 Lives Could be Saved
The debate on vaping and its potential benefits to society continues to engage hearts and minds, with new studies, findings and opinions constantly emerging.
The Guardian recently ran a story, heaving with links to research for its claims that vaping could prevent thousands of deaths. The headline read: “E-cigarettes could save over 50,000 lives in the UK”.
Discussing the recent misgivings of the World Health Organisation about vaping, the story argued in favour of vaping as an effective aid for quitting traditional cigarettes:
“Prof Robert West and Dr Jamie Brown from University College London claim this week in the British Journal of General Practice that for every million smokers who switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes, over 6,000 premature deaths would be prevented in the UK every year. If all 9 million smokers took up e-cigarettes instead, 54,000 lives could be saved.”
Quitting Smoking with E-Cigarettes
The Guardian story refers to a recent press release from The Society for the Study of Addiction (which has been publishing addiction-related studies since the 19th century).
That study says: “People attempting to quit smoking without professional help are approximately 60% more likely to succeed if they use e-cigarettes than if they use willpower alone or over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum, finds a large UCL survey of smokers in England.
The results were adjusted for a wide range of factors that might influence quitting success, including age, nicotine dependence, previous quit attempts, and whether quitting was gradual or abrupt.”
It also directly addressed one of the chief anti-vaping concerns of the WHO:
“Some public health experts have expressed concern that widespread use of e-cigarettes could ‘re-normalise’ smoking. However, we are tracking this very closely and see no evidence of it. Smoking rates in England are declining, quitting rates are increasing and regular e-cigarette use among never smokers is negligible.”
50,000 Potential Saved Lives
Elsewhere in the Guardian’s story, they ran a quote from Prof Ann McNeill, lead author from the national addiction centre at King’s College London. She said: “We were surprised by the negativity of the commissioned review [from WHO], and found it misleading and not an accurate reflection of available evidence. E-cigarettes are new and we certainly don’t yet have all the answers as to their long-term health impact, but what we do know is that they are much safer than cigarettes, which kill over 6 million people a year worldwide.”
“Take-up by non-smokers is very rare, they say. The review fails to acknowledge that e-cigarettes are not only less harmful than tobacco but that any toxins in them are a tiny fraction of what is found in a conventional cigarette. It also argues that e-cigarettes help smokers give up and not the reverse.”
The website istreetresearch reported on the 50,000 potential saved lives story, and added an interpretation of its own about passive vaping: “E-cigarettes just emit much less carcinogens [than traditional cigarettes] into the environment. Due to the fact, that the concentration of nicotine in the exhaled smoke is about 20 times lower than in the exhaled tobacco smoke, it allows you to seriously reduce ‘emissions’”.
Thankfully, the news about potentially saving 50,000 lives gained some mainstream traction, with its findings published in The Times, The Examiner, and discussed on popular message board sites like Reddit. A Vaper who commented in the Reddit discussion said that “just from first-hand experience, I was on average a pack a day smoker for 7 years and hadn’t been able to quit. I switched to the E-cigarette then a couple weeks later switched to the no nicotine E-cigarette and a few weeks after that stopped using it altogether and now have been 3 months tobacco/nicotine free.” Another commenter replied: “Well done. You just beat one of the most addictive drugs known to man!”
Thinking about switching to e-cigarettes? Check out how you could benefit from the switch. Let us know if you have or are thinking of quitting on Facebook or in the comments below.