“Few public health initiatives have been as successful as the campaign against cigarettes,” says the Indie’s article, “an effort that began in the early 1900s and culminated in the now-famous 1964 surgeon general's report stating unequivocally that smoking causes cancer.”
They point out that a nation quitting smoking is a great thing and brings with it benefits such as sharp declines in the rates of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Unfortunately, they then add, it “coincided with another trend that isn't quite as encouraging: the rise of obesity.” And, the paper contends, “it's not unreasonable to think that the two might be at least somewhat related.”
The argument is based on work carried out by researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research. They believe that adjusting other factors such as age, education, income and work experience but none of it impacted weight as much as smoking rates. They rely on the historical evidence that smoking is linked to the suppression of appetite and that people gain weight after quitting smoking.
Vaping works by mimicking the process of smoking but with at least 95% less of the danger. Many people on the Planet of the Vapes forum have noted that they lost weight after switching from smoking to vaping – certainly not gaining pounds as would be expected from traditional quit methods.
But the whole argument that links non-smoking to a boom in obesity seems to be at best simplistic. It ignores changes in lifestyles; increased workloads decreasing opportunities for exercise and the huge volume of sugar now placed into ever more popular processed foods
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, they are bemoaning the inefficiency of anti-smoking campaigns. Smokers have stuck at 5-million users despite the best efforts of the health department and they’ve been joined by a growing number of smokeless tobacco users.
“The smoking prevalence in Malaysia is still high and has not shown any reduction compared to surveys conducted before. The usage of smokeless tobacco had also shown an increase, from 0.7% in 2011, to 10.9% in 2015. This includes tobacco sniffing, tobacco chewing and the usage of e-cigarettes,” said Dr Datuk Subramaniam, the health minister.
This news comes at the same time as figures reveal 17.7% of Malaysians are obese, with another 5.6-million classified as overweight. This means that over half of the country’s population is now overweight or obese – something that certainly can’t be placed down to quitting smoking. Maybe it’s all the fault of celebrities?
Given the twin problems of weight and smoking it is odd that Subramaniam is not welcoming the harm reduction benefits of vaping more openly. We appear to be doing our best to ignore them in the UK too, but then if the Indie is setting the level of debate at this simplistic level then it’s hardly surprising.