No matter where you looked this week (be it the Greenock Telegraph, the Pharmaceutical Journal or Italy’s Sig Magazine) everybody seemed to be talking about how successful vaping is. For the very first time, more than half of Britain’s vapers have quit smoking – or “Gran Bretagna, vapers esclusivi superano consumatori duali” as Sig put it. Congratulations everybody!
It is, put simply, a phenomenal achievement. For a while, public health “experts” like Martin McKee derided vaping on the basis that it wasn’t helping anyone to escape from smoking. Paraphrasing him, he said things like: “Look at the data, about seventy to eighty percent of people who use electronic cigarettes still smoke – they’re dual users and they still smoke.”
And he wasn’t totally wrong. A few years ago the cigalike was the dominant device used and dual-users were the largest segment in vaping. But now, with 2.9-million vapers in Britain, ASH’s survey highlights that 55% of us have now totally given up traditional tobacco products. For the benefit of any public health “expert”, that’s a survey from a group (who’s sole remit is to campaign against tobacco) stating that vaping works as a quit smoking tool. The data says it works better than any other quit smoking tool available in Britain today.
Vapers are an encouraging community, by and large. They will readily offer advice and tips in online forums and on social media groups, the like of which is absent from any other smoking quitting method. Plus, it goes further. While ex-smokers were notoriously obnoxious to those unable to emulate their achievements, there is no scorn from vapers towards smokers. Plus, those vapers who have gone on to leave nicotine behind appear to remain supportive of vaping and the vaping community.
Most vapers do not currently hold an ambition to cease vaping, our Stealthvape Survey highlighted that just 10% intended to stop vaping altogether.
Likewise, most dual-fuellers (when questioned a couple of years ago) stated that they were happy to continue as they were. Yet the cost, taste or one of the many other factors eventually persuaded them to switch completely and successfully.
Is it not feasible that vaping will facilitate the gentle slide from smoking to vaping, and then a drift into the non-use of nicotine? There are a number of drivers that might create an environment for this to be the case.
Firstly, while the community can be fun, it has grown to such a size that it’s possible to not want to be associated with parts of it. Maybe the younger vapers begin to see it as an older person’s activity? Maybe older vapers tire of being expected to grow a beard, don a funny hat and vape out a twelve-foot cloud?
Maybe, as the nicotine levels being used have dropped to such low levels (3mg and 1.5mg being the market-leading strengths) the chemicals hold over the mind drops to a very weak one?
All told, it doesn’t matter. If someone wishes to make a conscious and informed decision to take something into their lungs that is 95% safer than tobacco smoke then why shouldn’t they, Martin McKee?
The data is clear: vaping hasn’t attracted non-smoking children, it hasn’t renormalised smoking, it hasn’t acted as gateway from vaping into smoking. The only thing it has done is increase the health of over 1.5-million ex-smokers.