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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Are e-cigs the gateway to smoking some claim?

Given that the Welsh Government is currently considering a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places on the grounds that it normalises smoking, this article on the BBC website is an interesting contribution to the debate sparked by that proposal.

They say that data from the Office for National Statistics indicate those who use e-cigarettes, are almost entirely current or former smokers:

E-cigarettes were mainly used to help smokers quit and because users saw them as being less harmful than cigarettes, the ONS said.

And the proportion of adults who smoked cigarettes had fallen to 19%.

Most of the figures from the ONS are for the year 2013, so it is possible that the picture is still changing.

The proportion of smokers had plummeted from 46% in 1974 to 19% in 2013, the ONS said.

Not only had fewer people taken up smoking, but more smokers had quit. And many smokers and former smokers were using e-cigarettes.

It is still early days of course but these figures show that the Minister's position does not seem to be based on any evidence. In fact the available evidence undermines it.
Most of the debate has concerned the risks rather than the benefits of ecigs and you might like to re-read the ONS survey for quantification of benefits i.e. those who have quit smoking by using ecigs (the most important health concern).

In fact it is impossible to see at a glance - we know the total GB number thanks to an ASH survey earlier this year.It showed 700k,equivalent to a prevalence fall of about 1.4%.The ONS survey shows prevalence since 2000 - you will note it reached 21% in 2007 and is now 19%(or 20% without vapers).The proportion of ex-smokers has stayed at 23% since 2000.The elephant in the room is the lack of success of conventional cessation policies which are continually promoted and financed.
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