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Published on February 28th, 2016 | by Guest


Smoking reaches record low: can vaping finally get some credit?

More smokers than ever are putting down their cigarettes and picking up a vape pen

Just one in five people still smoke… and the good news is that they are smoking less than ever. In 1976, the average smoker got through seventeen cigarettes a day. But now the average smoker is getting through just eleven cigarettes — the lowest figure since records began.

The other piece of good news? Fewer men are smoking than ever before. Men have traditionally smoked more than women, but only 20% of men still smoke — also the lowest figure on record. In fact, the only slight blip is the number of women smoking, which has increased by one percent on last year to 17%.

How vaping has changed our smoking habits

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the country, so the continued low smoking statistics are great news. But what’s driving the trend towards lower smoking rates? Well, the anti-smoking campaigns are certainly having their effect. The ever-tightening laws against smoking in public places, as well as the ever-increasing taxes on tobacco products make smoking less appealing than ever before.

However, it’s clear that e-cigarettes are also playing their part in helping the nation quit smoking. Almost one in twenty people now vape and just over half of them say that vaping has helped them quit smoking. Given that the best available evidence suggests that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, this looks like a pretty sizeable win for public health.

This evidence directly contradicts the argument that vaping is ‘renormalizing’ smoking. Instead, we continue to see smoking rates fall as vaping rates rise. It’s worth pointing out too that 97.5% of people who vape are ex-smokers, proving that e-cigarettes are almost never used by people who never smoked to begin with.

It’s also true that many people are so-called “dual-users” — they both smoke cigarettes and they vape. While vaping critics have pointed to dual-users as proof that vaping has limited effectiveness as a quitting aid, they’re missing the important fact that dual-users are still smoking less cigarettes. In fact, the existence of dual-users explains why those that still do smoke are smoking less cigarettes than ever before.

We know that many smoking-related illnesses are dose-responsive… in other words, the more cigarettes you smoke, the more likely you are to become ill. This means that while there is no amount of ‘healthy’ smoking, it is still a victory when a smoker drops from fifteen cigarettes a day to just five.

A smoke-free future?

Looking at the data gives us some cause for optimism: the group of people least likely to smoke are the under-25s. Are today’s teenagers less rebellious than their parents? Perhaps. But the other significant statistic about the under-25s is that they are the only group which is more likely to vape than smoke.

The figures are worrying for the tobacco industry, but great news for rest of us. It suggests, as others have noted, that vaping could be part of the “end-game” for tobacco. As these under-25s grow into adults that vape rather than smoke, the number of people buying cigarettes will decline even further.

It’s still early days, but statistics like these suggest that traditional cigarettes are approaching their ‘Kodak moment’. Just as Kodak went bust with the arrival of digital photography, so too could tobacco cigarettes become obsolete as technological advancements continue to make e-cigarettes a safer, cheaper and more effective product.

The figures used in this article are from the Office of National Statistics


Author bio: This article was written by Pascal Culverhouse, founder of the Electric Tobacconist.

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