Local vaping groups lauded the latest study conducted by researchers from University College London showing that the use of electronic cigarettes may help between 50,000 and 70,000 smokers in England quit every year.
“The results of the UCL study affirm the findings of Public Health England and many other independent expert studies, which show that e-cigarette use is associated with improved quit smoking success rates and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the United Kingdom,” said Vishal Daswani, vice president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association.
“This latest study adds to the growing body of research supporting e-cigarettes or vapes as a significantly less harmful alternative to cigarettes and a viable smoking cessation aid,” said Mark Czerwin Erana, president of the Vapers PH.
The study entitled “Association of prevalence of electronic cigarette use with smoking cessation and cigarette consumption in England: a time series analysis between 2006 and 2017” was published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Addiction.
It found that as the use of e-cigarettes in quit attempts went up from 2011 onwards, smoking cessation success rates also increased. When the increase in e-cigarettes use plateaued somewhat around 2015, the increase in quit success also leveled off. Based on this data trend, the UCL research team estimated that in 2017 around 50,700 to 69,930 smokers in England had stopped who would otherwise have continued smoking.
The UCL research team used data from the Smoking Toolkit Study, a series of monthly cross-sectional household surveys of individuals aged 16 and older in England going back to 2006.
Data were based on approximately 1,200 past-year smokers each quarter (total of 50,498 smokers) between 2006 and 2017. The team used time series analysis to assess the association between current use of e-cigarettes and use of e-cigarettes during a quit attempt with quit attempts, overall quit rate, quit success rate and average cigarette consumption.
Statistical adjustments were made for seasonality, underlying trends, population level policies, spending on tobacco mass media and affordability of tobacco.
The study was funded by Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest independent cancer research charity. It builds on the results of previous population surveys and clinical trials showing that vaping can help smokers to quit, according to Dr. Emma Beard, senior research associate at UCL and lead study author.
She believes that England seems to have found a sensible balance between regulation and promotion of e-cigarettes, with marketing of e-cigarettes tightly controlled and very few people who have never smoked using e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are forms of tobacco harm reduction, a public health strategy to lower the health risks to individuals and wider society associated with using tobacco products. THR aims to provide safer alternatives to reduce harms caused by smoking and to provide nicotine to people who cannot or do not want to quit smoking by themselves or with currently-approved methods.
“Diseases caused by smoking are not due to nicotine but to combustion products that are burned at high temperatures. This burning creates a lot of toxins that are subsequently inhaled by the smoker,” said Erana. Unlike conventional cigarettes that burn dried tobacco leaf at over 800 ºC, e-cigarettes vaporize e-liquid with temperatures reaching only 180ºC to 250ºC. There is no burning of organic matter.
Also called heat-not-burn products, heated tobacco products only heat tobacco, which generates a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor. Because the tobacco is not burned, the levels of harmful chemicals produced by heat-not-burn products are significantly lower compared to combustible cigarette smoke.
A popular heated-tobacco product in Japan is Philip Morris International’s IQOS, an electronic device that heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol.
According to the 2018 State of Smoking Survey, the rising popularity of heated tobacco products in Japan is partially due to growing awareness about the health risks associated with smoking, as well as the high cost of traditional tobacco products and Japanese smokers’ desire for cleanliness and to avoid smelling like cigarette smoke. The country’s tax rate on conventional cigarettes is more than three times higher than the tax rate for heated tobacco products.
“Since the entry of heated tobacco products in the Japanese market in 2014, the decline in Japan’s smoking rate has accelerated in recent years. In 2005, 49 percent of men and 14 percent of women in Japan were smokers. Today, the country’s smoking rate has decreased to around 18 percent of the total population,” Daswani said.
“While not risk-free, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are better alternatives to smoking. The best choice is to quit or not to start smoking,” said Erana.