Official UK Data Shows Ecigs Do Not Lead to Tobacco Use

Critics have been claiming for months that ecigs act as a gateway to tobacco use, but this week, the UK released new statistics that disprove this theory. The Office for National Statistics recently compiled data from e-cig users to learn more about how vaping impacts tobacco habits. The results might surprise you. It turns out that almost all of the people that are currently using ecigs in the UK are either current or former smokers.

ONS discovered that most smokers began using ecigs because they believed they were less harmful than tobacco and they wanted to quit smoking. Since ecigs hit the scene, the adult smoking population has dropped to only 19 percent. This is a dramatic fall from previous numbers just a few decades ago when 46 percent of adults were smoking in 1974.

Ecigs first appeared in Europe in 2006 and since then, they have been the target of nearly endless criticism. Many alleged that ecigs would renormalize smoking and act as a gateway to lead nonsmokers to begin using tobacco as they grew addicted to nicotine. But ONS said that is not what the latest data shows. Instead, analysts said that ecigs are most commonly chosen as a route to smoking cessation.

Based on surveys conducted earlier this year, around one in 10 smokers are now using ecigs and five percent of former UK smokers say they switched to ecigs. When vapers were asked about why they switched to ecigs, one in five reported they decided to change to vaping because they believed it was less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Professor Kevin Fenton, the National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, believes that regulation is key as more smokers turn to ecigs to escape long-term tobacco addictions. “Balanced and effective regulation of e-cigarettes will help manage the risks and maximize the potential for these products to replace smoking – greatly reducing smoking related disease that kills nearly 80,000 people in England every year,” he said. Beginning in 2016, the UK plans to regulate electronic cigarettes as medical devices.

The British Lung Foundation is also taking an optimistic view of e-cigarettes these days. Chief Executive Dr. Penny Woods said, “These data should again alleviate the fears expressed by some over an e-cigarette gateway effect – people trying e-cigarettes before moving on to the much more harmful practice of smoking. However, this is something we’ll need to keep a watchful eye on, as the situation may well change as e-cigarettes continue to become more commonplace.”

Once again, this latest UK data proves that e-cigs are not the enemy. Vaping is not a gateway to tobacco use; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Electronic cigarettes are offering an effective way for long-term smokers to escape their tobacco habit. We are finally seeing health officials take a balanced view on this delicate issue in the UK. Hopefully the rest of the world will soon follow along in the same train of thought.

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