We’re midweek through Stoptober – an annual tradition where people try and abstain from smoking. Unfortunately, for too many people this monthly habit normally ends after a week, or going straight back to their old habit whilst packing away the Halloween decorations on 1st November.
Like many of those currently trying to stop I did so very intermittently: a week or so here or even for a month or two. But for some reason the temptation for nicotine always lingered as doggedly as the smell of tobacco clings to clothes.
But when I switched tactics and instead substituted my nicotine cravings with vaping rather than starving it, the enticement disappeared overnight.
That’s because e-cigarettes don’t remove the temptation for nicotine: they feed it. But they do so in a method that Public Health England estimate is 95% less harmful. It’s harm reduction rather than harm elimination – but it comes pretty close. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), which I proudly chair, has produced a summary of the science available which, whilst impartial, is definitely positive news and worth a read.
Just imagine the consequences of everyone currently smoking switching to e-cigarettes: cancer rates would plummet, life expectancies would be permanently elevated and the strain on the NHS would go up in smoke. Some 13% of the UK public smoke daily. Clearly this is an area of enormous potential and something that we should be supporting at every turn.
That’s why I’m so pleased Public Health England’s annual Stoptober campaign is openly supporting vaping for the first time. The government has ploughed millions of pounds over the years into anti-smoking awareness. Just imagine if they had spent that money instead on encouraging people to switch to vaping? Even without any public funding the number of people vaping has gone from virtually 0 in 2008 to over 2.9m. But there are 9m more to go.
And the best thing about e-cigarettes: Big Tobacco are fully onside. Large tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco and are launching brands of their own. This is not altruism: it’s about companies recognising which way the wind is turning. In short, the free market in action is aligning the objectives of organisations as diametrically opposed as the British Lung Foundation and big tobacco!
Not that the vaping market is dominated by industrial giants. On the contrary, 90% of the 1,100 firms that make up the UK’s burgeoning vaping industry are SMEs. The burdensome regulations that Brussels has hoisted on e-cigarettes, such as requiring manufacturers to stick to a labyrinth of tick box exercises and banning the higher-strength nicotine e-cigarettes which are so often chosen as a first step to breaking the habit of lifetime, are the first laws that we should repeal once we have taken back control of our laws.
Like all former smokers, I can remember that wonderful feeling of having finally broken free. E-cigarettes are precisely so effective because it isn’t about nannying or taxing ordinary people to the hilt, it’s about enabling people to make the choice to enjoy cleaner clothes, clearer lungs and longer lives.
I’d thoroughly encourage all people who are looking to quit smoking, or even to smoke less, to put down the cigarettes and pick up a vaping device this Stoptober.
Note to editors
- Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.
- He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
- He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF).
- He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.