UK leads the world on tobacco harm reduction, other countries should follow02.10.17
UK Government proactively promotes e-cigarettes in anti-tobacco campaign as smoking rates continue to fall to lowest levels on record
The UK Government’s stance on vaping and its proactive promotion of e-cigarettes sets a world-leading example that other governments should follow, according to Fontem Ventures.
Having already concluded two years ago that vaping is ‘95% less harmful’ than smoking, the UK Government is now proactively promoting e-cigarettes on television as part of its annual Stoptober campaign this month.
“For several years, the UK Government has sought to build its scientific understanding of e-cigarettes and subsequently, the public health benefits of reduced risk products – including e-cigarettes,” said Marc Michelsen, Fontem Ventures. “This effort – which resulted in its conclusion that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking – is really paying off: smoking rates in the UK have fallen to 15.8%, making them the second lowest in Europe.”
Yet many other countries across Europe and around the world still need to do more to recognise the positive role of vaping – while French, Belgian and Norwegian authorities have acknowledged the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes, many other governments have not, and continue to either ban or treat these products in much the same way as tobacco.
“That is why we are so encouraged that, for the first time ever, Public Health England has integrated e-cigarettes into its annual Stoptober campaign, recognising that 53% of last year’s participants used e-cigarettes; that quit attempts in the UK are at an all-time high; that UK smoking rates are at the lowest levels ever recorded; and that 1.4 million UK smokers have already quit tobacco entirely thanks to e-cigarettes,” said Michelsen.
In addition, NHS Scotland – the health service in Scotland – recently joined more than 20 public health organisations in signing a statement saying that vaping is “definitely” less harmful than using tobacco.
“For years, we have been saying that vaping should be more widely encouraged as an alternative to tobacco, so we are delighted the UK Government is now saying this, too,” said Michelsen. “Throughout October, our leading vaping brand blu will be conducting on-street activities in London, Manchester and Birmingham, in an effort to encourage even more smokers to switch away from tobacco.”
“Now, as Brexit negotiations proceed, the Government should ensure EU legislation is amended to permit more widespread, informative advertising of e-cigarettes so that smokers know about the choices available to them,” said Michelsen. “The EU, too, should take inspiration from the UK as its members seek to construct effective tobacco control strategies.”