UK Launches Campaign to Promote Vaping and Dispel Negative News
Britain, already at the forefront of global efforts to support vaping as a leading smoking-cessation method and dramatically drive down smoking rates across the four-nation country, has launched a new campaign aimed at promoting e-cigarettes and attempting to counter some of the negative news stories about vaping, which it fears might turn people away from e-cigs and keep them smoking deadly cigarettes.
The campaign, called Health Harms and run by executive government agency Public Health England (PHE), centers around a new film that shows the real risks to people’s health from every cigarette they smoke. It will be aired on TV throughout January — a time of the year when many people are trying to make good on such New Year’s resolutions as stopping smoking. The promotion also features over a dozen supporting materials, such as posters, leaflets, and pharmacy information packs, to ram home the message that smoking is one of the most harmful things you can do to your body.
One message, for example, reads: “Every 15 cigarettes smoked cause a mutation in your body”, which can then go on to develop into a cancer or lead to heart or lung disease. Smokers are urged to search “Smokefree” and get their own “personal quit plan” that will help them to get off tobacco for good. Smoking kills up to 100,000 people in the UK — made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — and health authorities have in recent years started to advise smokers to vape as an effective way to quit, as it allows them to get the nicotine they want but not the many toxins given off by burning tobacco.
New Vaping Drive
PHE’s new film features doctors who are experts in smoking and the risks it poses to human health; it portrays the enormous amount of carcinogens and tar that the average smoker inhales during a month compared to a non-smoker or a vaper. “The results of the demonstration visually illustrate the stark contrast between the impacts of smoking and vaping,” the campaign says. “Research estimates that while not risk-free, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.”
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE, said it was vital that more people understood that vaping carries a small amount of the health risks compared to smoking so that more people would use e-cigarettes to finally kick their unhealthy habit. “It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about safety. We need to reassure smokers that switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking,” he said. “This [film] highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk,” said the professor, adding that he wanted “to encourage more smokers to try [to] quit completely with the help of an e-cigarette.”
Dr. Lion Shahab of University College London — one of the smoking experts who appears in the PHE film — said, meanwhile, that e-cigarettes would help to save lives and are a public health aid. “The false belief that vaping is as harmful as smoking could be preventing thousands of smokers from switching to e-cigarettes to help them quit,” he said. “I hope this illustrative experiment helps people see the huge damage caused by smoking that could be avoided by switching to an e-cigarette.”
Doubling down on Vaping Message
It’s not the first time PHE has advised smokers to quit with the help of e-cigarettes, which are easier to get than ever. Vape kits contain everything a smoker needs to get the best e cig for them so that they can get going and make the switch. This time last year, the top UK health agency issued a renewed advisory, which said that vaping is almost entirely risk-free compared to smoking and that smokers choosing to use e-cigarettes could result in at least 20,000 successful new quits every year.
And it comes as the public health provider in the UK, the National Health Service, has embarked on its own drive to promote e-cigarettes as a solid way to quit — during its annual stop-smoking campaign called Stoptober. Other countries, including the United States, have yet to embrace vaping the way the UK has, in a bid to make its population healthier and more productive. In the US, 16 million people are suffering from illnesses caused by smoking, and the annual death toll from smoking-related diseases is close to half a million.
Thanks to the internet, however, people around the world have access to a variety of tools and information so they can become more aware of the hazards of smoking and what they can do to quit for good — such as taking up PHE’s advice and vaping instead.