Smoker Of 25 Years Campaigns For Vaping After Making The Life-Saving Switch

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A lifelong smoker in the United Kingdom wants to aid a top cancer charity’s campaign to switch smokers to e-cigarettes, saying that after failing many times, vaping helped her ditch cigarettes for good.

Karen Lee, a 44-year-old mother-of-two living in Bury, smoked roughly 15 cigarettes-a-day for 25 years, and feared she would never be able to quit combustible cigarettes. Roughly one in five adults in Bury are active smokers. She said over the years she has tried cold-turkey quitting, nicotine gum and patches with little success, always circling back to smoking, reports Bury Times.

Lee picked up a vape in Oct. 2016 after a colleague at work turned her onto the products. She said she quit cigarettes by vaping for six weeks, subsequently quitting vaping as well.

“I had tried so many times and then started once again,” Lee said, according to Bury Times. “I started using an e-cigarette to help me stop smoking and I liked being able to choose the nicotine level. For me, e-cigarettes felt like an easier replacement for my habit. It is great to be able to wake up without a hacking cough and to be able to breathe normally again and actually taste food after so many years of not being able to.”

Lee is now lending her voice to a campaign by Cancer Research U.K., one of the country’s top public health charities, in their effort to spread awareness about the benefits of using e-cigarettes instead of combustible tobacco. Their goal is to lower mortality and cancer rates by transitioning as many smokers as possible to the reduced risk products.

Cancer Research U.K. began the campaign in mid-January in Greater Manchester, peppering the area with adverts on billboards and in social media explaining the difference between vapor products and combustible cigarettes, that point out nicotine by itself is not behind the majority of adverse health impacts associated with smoking.

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.

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.

The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the devices as useful tools to quit smoking and eliminate secondhand risks to the public. The department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to significantly slash the overall smoking rate, and argues that expanding public access to vaping will help achieve this goal.

Health officials in the country hope to bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022. The report states that the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”

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