E-cigarettes are “the most popular stop smoking aid in England,” according to the recent PHE report. The health organization adds that vaping increases the likelihood of quitting cigarettes successfully by about 50% percent and reduces health risks by “at least 95%.”
This report highlights once again the continuing contrast between the stance taken by the UK and that taken by other countries. Only last week, a Hong Kong Official announced a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other innovative tobacco products. This was an unexpected U-turn by the government, who had previously proposed only to restrict e-cig sales to minors.
On the other hand, as part of its recent crackdown on teen vaping, last month the US FDA said that it is considering banning vaping businesses from selling their products online. Additionally, the agency issued over 1,000 warning letters to U.S. retailers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes, in what the agency called “the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history.”
In these letters, the agency demanded that within 60 days these companies present proof that they can keep the nicotine-containing products out of the hands of minors. Should they fail to do so, the FDA may also ban candy-like flavors, such as bubble gum and crème brûlée, that it considers appealing to this age group.
The US remains far behind
Back in England, the PHE said that about 2.5 million people use e-cigarettes and 51%, or almost 1.3 million, have stopped smoking entirely and half of the vapers who still smoke say they are vaping in an effort to quit.
On the other hand in the US, approximately 2.6 million vapers were former smokers as of 2016, and when taking into account that the U.S. population is six times that of England’s, this rate pales in comparison to the UK one.
“There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes are helping many thousands of smokers in England to quit,” says the PHE. “The available evidence from research trials suggests that their effectiveness is broadly similar to prescribed stop smoking medicines and better than NRT [nicotine replacement therapy] products if these are used without any professional support. E-cigarettes are particularly effective when combined with expert help from a local stop smoking service.”