Almost 3 million adults in Great Britain use e-cigarettes. And about half them – 1.5 million people – have completely stopped smoking. That’s according to the NHS.
Tobacco use kills about 100,000 UK people every year and 900,000 people in India. Yet India has banned the sale of vapes completely – or at least that’s the legislation awaiting the formality of sign-off by its parliament in November 2019. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is not convinced that vaping helps to quit smoking.
And it’s not just India. Vaping products have been outlawed in at least 39 other countries such as Brazil. In maybe 20 more, vaping sales are controlled such that authorisation must be obtained in order to market them.
One would think that it must be devastatingly deadly and kill more people than smoking does.
However, in countries where the quality of vaping products is not as tightly controlled as it is in the UK, users have no idea what inappropriate chemicals may be contained in their vapes. The US is a case in point, leading to a rising death toll there.
Tobacco is a major crop in India
According to the World Health Organisation, about 35% of adults in India use tobacco, mostly for chewing. India is the world’s second largest tobacco consumer after China and the third biggest tobacco producer.
Over the past 10 years, vaping has exploded in popularity amongst the younger Indian generation. The government there considers it to have reached ‘epidemic proportions’.
While India fears for its young people falling foul of the horrors of e-cigarettes, many farmers depend on tobacco for a living and possibly ‘tobacco farmers are an important vote bank for political parties’.
Regardless, millions of young Indian people may now turn to tobacco to satisfy the nicotine craving that their vaping habit has created.
Vaping is not Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) – but it works better!
The NHS pays for a range of NRT treatments, like patches and inhalators, but not for e-cigarettes.
But the NHS does acknowledge that vaping is a big help in quitting. The video on this NHS advice page shows a pretty dramatic experiment. Vaping is far safer than smoking.
The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training is responsible for guiding UK healthcare professionals. GP surgeries and health centres that offer Stop Smoking clinics follow these recommendations.
Tests showed that after a year, 18% of smokers in the trial who used e-cigarettes had quit smoking compared with 8% who used various forms of NRT. In other words, vaping is a very effective aid to quitting.
Are there genuine concerns about vaping and health?
Several stories from the US have surfaced recently that link vaping with respiratory disease and several deaths. That is a concern. However, it seems the culprit is vaping products that contain cannabis. Specifically, ‘extremely high levels of the chemical vitamin E acetate were found in nearly all cannabis-containing vaping products that were analyzed as part of the investigation ‘
That type of product is not legally available in the UK. However, people who vape should be aware of the dangers I case they are offered a similar product. In any case, inhaling or ingesting any manufactured product carries health risks.
How is vaping regulated here in the UK?
E-cigarettes and vaping are already well regulated in the UK. This provides a very significant level of protection and comfort for users when they read of bans elsewhere in the world.
Highlights from the regulations:
- Quality and safety standards are clear for manufacturers and suppliers
- Labelling and packaging must comply with minimum standards
- Advertising vaping is banned from newspapers & magazines, TV & radio, social media and the Internet in general.
- Sales to under-18s are not permitted, nor are adults allowed to buy products for minors.
Public Health England (PHE) keeps an eye on vaping
The Government has charged PHE with reviewing e-cigarette usage annually until 2022. You can find the most recent PHE analysis and report here.
UK controls appear to ensure that vaping is relatively safe in this country. Its benefits certainly save many thousands of ex-smokers from cancer, coronary disease and other smoking related illnesses.
However, flavoured vaping substances pose a threat and could indeed induce young people to take up vaping. That’s why they may shortly be outlawed in the US.
The fact remains that nicotine is highly addictive in whatever form but vaping is undoubtedly the lesser of two evils.
AnthonyJones.com (Jun 2019). Countries where vaping is illegal in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.anthonyjones.com/countries-where-vaping-illegal-2019/
Business Today (Sep 2019). E-cigarettes banned in India: Why the govt thinks vaping is not ‘cool’. Retrieved from https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/e-cigarettes-banned-india-why-govt-stops-sale-production-storage-ends/story/379883.html
CNBC-TV18 (Sep 2019). Why did India outlaw vapes? Here’s how the ban impacts public health and economy. Retrieved from https://www.cnbctv18.com/politics/why-did-india-outlaw-vapes-heres-how-the-ban-impacts-public-health-and-economy-4377541.htm
CNN (Sep 2019). A sixth person died from vaping-related lung disease. Here’s what you need to know. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/10/health/vaping-outbreak-2019-explainer/index.html
Guidelines In Practice (Oct 2015). From smoking to vaping to quitting: a nurses’ guide. Retrieved from https://www.guidelinesinpractice.co.uk/from-smoking-to-vaping-to-quitting-a-nurses-guide/352668.article
National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (Feb 2019). Information for specialist stop-smoking services that are considering providing e-cigarette starter packs: recommendations from the Trial of Ecigarettes (TEC). Retrieved from https://www.ncsct.co.uk/publication_TEC_briefing.php
NHS SMOKEFREE. E-cigarettes. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/help-and-advice/e-cigarettes
Reuters (Sep 2019). India bans e-cigarettes as global backlash at vaping gathers pace. Retrieved from https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-india-ecigarettes/india-bans-e-cigarettes-as-global-backlash-at-vaping-gathers-pace-idUKKBN1W315Y
The Times Of India (Sep 2019). Why India decided to ban e-cigarettes. Retrieved from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/why-india-decided-to-ban-e-cigarettes/articleshow/71197261.cms
UK Government (Feb 2019). E-cigarettes and vaping: policy, regulation and guidance. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/e-cigarettes-and-vaping-policy-regulation-and-guidance
UK Government (Feb 2019). Vaping in England: an evidence update February 2019. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaping-in-england-an-evidence-update-february-2019