UK Moves Ahead with Vaping Over Smoking as US Stalls

Countries around the world are in a race against time to stub out smoking for good. This widespread and most unhealthy of habits leads to the death of some 7 million people globally each year, almost a million of whom never lit up at all, but merely inhaled secondhand fumes.

It’s a worldwide health crisis and the leading cause of preventable deaths that health authorities are scrambling to end. But how?

Anyone who has ever picked up a cigarette and went on to become a fully fledged smoker knows all too well the difficulty in giving up. Nicotine, responsible for the smoking “buzz” and feelings of relaxation, is a substance that, once introduced to the human body, will not loosen its deadly grip without putting up an almighty fight.

Going “cold turkey” — deciding to quit smoking one day and never again start puffing away — can be particularly unsuccessful for many people, because of the uncomfortable side effects they have to struggle with. These can range from splitting headaches to high levels of irritability and even flu-like symptoms, depression and insomnia during the nicotine-withdrawal period. It’s no wonder so many people cave in and start smoking again.

Stubbing Out Smoking for Good

Other once-popular smoking-cessation methods include nicotine gum, hypnotherapy and many, many others. All too often, however, they fail and the cigarette pack makes a reappearance. This is precisely what the British health authorities have found. The respected National Health Service points out that the increasingly popular electronic cigarette is showing the way forward in the fight against smoking and the diseases and deaths it causes.

Every October, the UK health service runs a campaign to try and get people to quit smoking. Called Stoptober, it issues advice and guidance and provides support for those who want to give up. Last year, for the first time, it recommended that smokers take up vaping as a way to achieve their goals, and it said this route was proving one of the best. “E-cigarettes are particularly effective when combined with support from local stop-smoking services — people who choose this route have some of the highest quitting success rates,” it said.

It is not alone, in the UK at least. There, all kinds of health, medical and research bodies and authorities have produced detailed and exhaustive studies showing that e-cigarettes — novices can choose a disposable, cigarette-style e-cig such as the NJOY King 5 Pack that gives them a similar feel to what they’re used to — bear little or no risk to human health. A recent two-year study found no long-term health concerns from vaping. Others, including the Royal College of Physicians, say vaping should be widely promoted to get people off cigarettes and save lives.

US Foot-Dragging on Vaping

Where is the United States in all of this? In a mighty nation where 480,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses each year, over 41,000 of those from secondhand smoke, there is hardly any promotion of electronic over tobacco cigarettes to improve the country’s health and prevent this ongoing and tragic loss of human life.

What does the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, have to say about giving up smoking by vaping instead? It advises that electronic cigarettes “have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.”

But in the same piece of advice on vaping, the agency appears to contradict itself when it declares that e-cigarettes “have the potential to benefit some people and harm others” and that “scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.” So which is it, and is it all that surprising that the CDC director has had to resign after it was found that she had investments in cigarette companies?

The war on tobacco is far from over, but with workable cessation solutions such as vaping, victory may be nearer than we think.