UK study says vaping may help people quit smoking amid concerns in US over e-cigarette deaths

While the CDC has flagged the ill effects of vaping in the wake of deaths, in the UK it is being seen as helping smokers quit


                            UK study says vaping may help people quit smoking amid concerns in US over e-cigarette deaths

The controversy surrounding the use of vaping is far from over: some believe it can help smokers quit and others strongly refuting the claim. The dispute took a serious turn when the Centres for Disease and Control (CDC) issued a warning against the use of e-cigarettes containing a cannabis component, suspecting its role in the 1,299 registered cases of lung injuries in the US

As the debates on its benefits and risks continue, a new study finds that vaping or e-cigarettes may help more than 50,000 smokers quit smoking in England each year. Lead author of the study, Dr Emma Beard, Senior Research Associate at University College London, said, "This study builds on population surveys and clinical trials that find e-cigarettes can help smokers to stop."

By analyzing data from 50,598 smokers between 2006 and 2017, they found that from 2011, the number of people who took to e-cigarettes to quit smoking shot up. This, the study says, also boosted the success rate of quitting. Through this study, they concluded that in 2017, between 50,700 and 69,930 smokers quit, thanks to vaping.

The debate on alternative tobacco products

The UK and the US have adopted a different approach towards e-cigarettes. It was reported that UK government's health agency arm, Public Health England, (PHE) has launched a campaign to dispel fears against e-cigarettes. 

The UK seems to have figured out their stance on vaping products. Beard believes that England has found a sensible balance between regulation and promotion of e-cigarettes. "Marketing is tightly controlled so we are seeing very little use of e-cigarettes by never-smokers of any age while millions of smokers are using them to try to stop smoking or to cut down the amount they smoke."

Also, PHE maintains that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than tobacco, differing from CDC's stance. "There’s been no similar spread of illness in Europe, and UK health officials have reiterated their stance that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes, encouraging smokers to switch," Bloomberg reported.

But this doesn't mean e-cigarettes are completely safe. Commenting on the issue, George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK senior policy manager, said, "E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, they aren't risk free and we don't yet know their long-term impact. We strongly discourage non-smokers from using them."

Sweden is witnessing something similar. Felicia Nordenstam, Senior Consultant Pediatric Cardiology at Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, who was not involved in the study, said, "There has been a debate among politicians, public health experts and researchers for several years."

Except that the subject of the debate is another tobacco product that is hugely popular in Sweden. Called snus, it is a powdered, smokeless product, which is marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. "The tobacco-related mortality is lower in Sweden than in other European countries, although the total tobacco consumption is similar. That is explained by the higher ratio of snus users and lower ratio of smokers," she explained, "There is no easy answer as to whether snus or e-cigarettes is an effective way out of smoking addiction. Careful consideration of the potential adverse health effects from nicotine itself is often absent from public health debates."

The study was published in scientific journal Addiction.

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