Why is there a decline in smoking?

Yearning to stub out your last traditional cigarette? You’re in good company. A recent HSE survey has shown that traditional cigarette consumption is on the wane, pointing out that:

“There has been a decline in prevalence of 2 percentage points since June 2010.”

The Irish Times recently ran some graphs and analysis on the subject too.

And it’s not just in Ireland. The decline in smoking is outlined in the most recent major cigarette study State-side. It showed that Americans are quitting too, with overall smoking prevalence declining from 2005 (20.9%) to 2012 (18.1%).

So why the decline in smoking?

This New York Times article speculates as to why it’s on the wane, saying;

“The smoking rate among adults in the United States has dropped again, an encouraging trend that experts on smoking cessation attribute to public policies like smoke-free air laws and cigarette taxes, as well as media campaigns and less exposure to smoking in movies.”

While culturally it might seem that the tide is turning against smoking cigarettes, some argue that it is legislation that makes the real difference:

“Globally, there has been significant progress in combating the deadly toll of tobacco use,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in response to the American study. “These findings demonstrate both that where countries take strong action, tobacco use can be dramatically reduced and the devastating consequences when countries do not fully adopt and implement effective tobacco control measures.”

Smoking is on the decline around the world

In other parts of the world, less conventional anti-smoking initiatives seem to be having a positive effect. Australia, for example, has seen smoking decline and academics are saying that it’s down to the new packaging laws; cigarettes now have plain packaging and unsightly smoking-related images on their boxes.

In the same news report, Dr Becky Freeman, Research Fellow/Lecturer at University of Sydney, pointed out:

“The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows real promise that this is occurring, with the percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds who have never smoked increasing to 77% from 72% in 2010. The number of 12 to 17-year-olds who have never smoked held steady at a near universal 95%.”

“The three-year survey shows just 12.8% of Australians over the age of 14 are now smoking on a daily basis. This is a significant decline from the 2010 survey when smoking rates were 15.1%.”

She cited other factors that have reduced smoking, such as “tax increases, highly emotive mass media campaigns, smoke-free public spaces, and bans on tobacco advertising”.

The battle against cigarettes is not over

While the tide seems to be turning, in some territories the battle against traditional cigarettes is far from over. According to QuitSmoking.com “One survey found that 60% of Chinese adults did not know that smoking can cause lung cancer while 96% were unaware it can cause heart disease.”

Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organisation said recently that:

“Every year more than one million people [in China] die as a result of tobacco-related illness.”

Meanwhile in Turkey, smoking has fallen 4% in only four years.

Vaping is on the rise

Vaping, however, is on the rise in Europe and the US. The Digital Times recently called it “the subculture that could save smokers’ lives”. Over in The Huffington Post, columnist Tony Newman argued that the World Health Organisation:

“…Should know better than most that a tool that may help millions of people stop smoking cigarettes should be celebrated and embraced; not restricted and stigmatized.”

This piece argues that tobacco bonds are already being hurt by vaping. And in Ireland an estimated 50,000 people (6-7% of smokers) have already made the switch to vaping.


Have you made the switch to vaping yet? Click here if you’d like to know more.

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