Smokers, vapers and non-smokers alike cannot fail to have noticed that the use of electronic cigarettes or “E-cigs” as they are commonly known, is rising exponentially month on month, both within the UK and further afield. Vape shops, market stalls and other face-to-face retailers are now a common sight within most of the UK’s town centres, and the internet-at-large is full of websites dedicated to the sale, discussion and review of E-cigs and related merchandise.
A new study has now revealed that based on current projections of the burgeoning popularity of E-cigs among the general public, the UK will boast as many E-cig users as tobacco smokers by 2018.
The number of E-cig users in the UK has risen dramatically since 2012, when vaping first came to the public’s attention as a viable and less harmful alternative to cigarette smoking. Within the last three years, the number of E-cig users in the UK has tripled, from 700,000 in 2012 to an impressive 2.1 million as of the present day.
ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) clarifies that this sudden surge in E-cig usage correlates with a dramatic decline in the number of tobacco smokers. The vast majority of E-cig users are former smokers, who have turned to electronic cigarettes hoping to reap the health benefits of stopping smoking while simultaneously, reducing the anti-social aspects of their smoking habit and its associated risks to the health of those close to them.
David Levin, co-founder of popular E-cig brand VIP, says that despite the recent boom in E-cig usage, we still remain very much in the growth stage of E-cig’s inception. Levin feels that not only will the figures for E-cig usage continue to climb year on year, but that the take-up rate for vaping in place of smoking will rise ever faster, leading to predictions of 6 million new E-cig users kicking the tobacco smoking habit over the course of the next three years.
In correlation with the rise in E-cig usage, the market for nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum are falling ever lower, alongside of sales of physical cigarettes. Health experts including Tom Pruen, chief scientific officer of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, believe that we are currently on the brink of a new trend that will potentially save millions of lives that would otherwise be lost to smoking-related illnesses.
Pruen states that around 100,000 people die every year due to tobacco smoking, and that the average life expectancy for a smoker is ten years less than that of a non-smoker. Pruen has also previously explained that it is widely understood that giving up smoking is notoriously difficult, as well as producing knock-on effects that can damage health; ergo, for people who may not otherwise realistically be able to consider cutting out nicotine altogether, e-cigs provide a viable alternative.
While the use of E-cigs is still viewed with suspicion in some circles, many anti-smoking advocates feel that E-cigs provide a viable alternative to tobacco smoking, and that E-cig usage is a highly effective form of harm reduction for smokers. As Pruen says, the draw of smoking is the nicotine, and yet the tar and other compounds present within cigarettes are the real killers.
Replacing tobacco with e-cigs, which are free of tar and other harmful chemicals, can potentially greatly reduce the health risks associated with smoking, for both the smoker themselves and their families.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is one big-hitter in the health field whose current stance on the matter is very anti-E-cig, however, independent experts who have been involved in data collation and research still fail to follow the WHO’s party line. Peer-reviewed research published recently in the British Medical Journal, for instance, states that for every million tobacco smokers who switch over to electronic cigarettes, approximately 6,000 smoking-related deaths can be prevented.
E-cig users themselves are very clear on their preferences, validated by millions of personal stories telling of wide-ranging improvements to their health as a result of cutting our tobacco and its associated carcinogens.
Are you among their number? Have you kicked the habit as a result of taking up vaping? How has E-cig usage impacted upon your life?