In the UK, smoking is the primary cause of premature death and preventable illness, with around 100,000 deaths each year attributed to smoking related diseases. Illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory disease and many cancers are directly linked to smoking, at a cost of over £2 billion per year to the NHS. With the NHS under constant budgetary strain, this represents a sizeable drain on resources.

Smoking has been a highly visible part of British culture for more than a century, and while the number of people smoking has been in decline since the 1970s, it’s still a habit enjoyed by around 10 million adults in the UK.

What has been happening over the past 10 years or so, however, is the development of a product which offers a much safer alternative to continuing to smoke tobacco. E-cigarettes, which first appeared back in 2005, are currently being used by around 2 million people in the UK, almost a fifth of the adult population who smoke.

While e-cigs are currently not regulated by any UK health authority, they soon will be, with the EU’s tobacco product directive coming into force in May 2016. This will require companies trading in the UK to abide by strict testing and record keeping rules, doing away with the concern over the traceability of ingredients used in current products.

That’s not to say, however, that existing companies do not already test their products. Many do so on a voluntary basis, but these new rules will make it a legal requirement for all e-cig vendors in the UK to follow suit.

In September 2015, Public Health England issued a report in which they stated that e-cigarettes were at least 95% safer than continued use of tobacco, a move which was widely welcomed by e-cigarette companies themselves, along with campaign groups such as Action on Smoking and Health. They do not contain the same cancer-causing ingredients found in tobacco, are free from tar, carbon monoxide and do not feature any combustion. As a result, they produce a vapour which lacks the carcinogenic elements which are the cause of so many smoking related illnesses.

For smokers looking to quit tobacco, e-cigarettes becoming an increasingly popular option. Given their relative low cost when compared with cigarettes, they also represent a substantial cost saving. E cig starter kits can range from the inexpensive, right through to high-end deluxe models, so the choice of how much to pay is very much in the consumer’s hands. It’s advisable, however, to stick to reputable vendors who already test their products and who comply with existing consumer goods legislations (CE, RoHS etc).

With e-cigarettes growing in popularity year on year, they are inevitably going to become much more prevalent among current smokers and those who identify as ‘ex-smokers’. More and more, people are having success quitting tobacco in favour of such devices, which can only be a good thing for future rates of smoking-related illnesses, which in turn should translate to a huge cost-saving to the NHS.

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One Comment

  1. Robert Jones says:

    And embedded in this piece is an advertisement for these very products; but in the small print we find “JAC Vapour are not intended as nicotine replacement therapy nor are they a cessation device”.


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