UK Urges Health Officials To Promote E-Cigarettes To Smokers Year Round

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom are urging health services to promote vaping year round for smokers trying to quit after the success of the country’s annual stop-smoking campaign.

Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the U.K. issued a statement Tuesday praising the potential for alternative smoking technologies like electronic cigarettes to reduce the overall smoking rate. They argue the government should capitalize on the recent success of the Stoptober campaign, which ran through October, by continuing to promote vaping as a harm reduction tool for smokers throughout the year, reports Vaping Post.

Public Health England, an agency of the U.K.’s Department of Health behind Stoptober, endorsed vaping for the first time this year as a great way for smokers to quit the habit. Only a week into the Stoptober campaign, Vape Club, the largest online retailer of vapor products in the U.K., revealed sales of e-cigarette starter kits jumped by 37 percent over figures from the same period last year.

Officials say this signals a serious desire to quit within the smoking population when offered a product that satisfies their nicotine cravings.

“The positive public health message regarding vaping has up to now been failing to get across to the U.K.’s remaining 7.6 million smokers,” MP Mark Pawsey, chairman of the APPG, said in the statement, according to Vaping Post. “The Public Health England campaign was a welcome change and has had an obvious effect, but it needs to be sustained, not just a one off.”

Vaporized, the U.K.’s largest chain of vaping retail shops, said they experienced a 40 percent sales increase this October over last year’s numbers and expanded their business operations. The U.K. currently has the second lowest smoking rate in all of Europe, and officials say vaping is a big part of the reason.

“We are calling upon the government to ensure such campaigns become the norm, not an exception, so that the U.K can fully exploit the public health potential of vaping,” Pawsey said in the statement. “Without these campaigns the current mixed messages surrounding vaping will continue and create a confusing picture.”

The Royal College of Physicians agrees that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. The medical body also recommends vaping for patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products. Vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risk associated with cigarettes because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke, according to Public Health England.

Vaping devices were the primary method used to quit among smokers participating in last year’s Stoptober campaign, with 53 percent of participants reporting using e-cigarettes.

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