Coffey, Cooper-Ryan, Houston, Thompson, and Cook point out the stark facts:
- Direct and second-hand smoking tobacco is estimated to kill more than 8 million per year
- 78,000 people died from smoking in England, during 2016
- 15.1% of people aged over 18 years smoke cigarettes
- Around 7.4 million people in the UK population still smoke
The carnage tobacco inflicts on smokers is well known to tobacco controllers, but so many still steadfastly refuse to accept that vaping can offer smokers a route out of cigarette addiction, leading them to promote “a cautionary approach” to vaping.
Those worried tobacco controllers speak of fears of unknown dangers, yet “the most recent Public Health England (PHE) evidence review reports that using e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’, pose only a small fraction of the risk of smoking, and the comparative risks of cardiovascular and lung disease, although not quantified, are substantially below the risks of smoking, with evidence from one source suggesting that the cancer potencies of e-cigarettes were largely under 0.5% of the risk of smoking.”
Salford’s quintet sought to build on PHE’s declaration of vaping’s relative safety by seeing if it demonstrably worked as a smoking quit tool, and so they embarked on a study involving 1022 subjects.
The work entailed setting up a pilot scheme to support smokers to quit smoking by substituting tobacco for electronic cigarettes over a three-month period in a socially deprived region. Participants were offered a free e-cigarette, charger, nicotine liquid, and support – then a further three bottles of juice.
This part of England has smoking rates almost three times higher among lower earners, compared to the highest earners. The team says smoking rates remain “stubbornly higher amongst those in our society who already suffer from poorer health and other disadvantages”.
They found that “for every five people entering the scheme, three stayed on the programme and reduced their cigarette smoking and one cut out cigarettes altogether” – a success rate of 60% for the scheme and a 20% successful quit rate.
But there was more. Some of those who dropped out of the study could all be assumed to still be smoking, but they say that there is anecdotal evidence that “some participants were known to be happy with their e-cigarettes and were continuing unsupported.”
They concluded: “The conservative estimate of smoking cessation demonstrated that community and pharmacy providers were able to at least match (if not slightly exceed) NICE smoking cessation targets. Moreover, this was achieved in an area of significant deprivation in the NW of England. E-cigarettes appear to be an effective nicotine replacement therapy.”
- “Using e-cigarettes for smoking cessation: evaluation of a pilot project in the North west of England”, Coffey et al. – [link]