In the UK, smoking is the primary cause of preventable illness and premature death, accounting for around 96,000 deaths a year. This figure is more than those for obesity, alcohol, road traffic accidents, illegal drugs and HIV infection combined. The financial cost of smoking is also steep, and not just for the smoker. Annually, a 20-a-day smoker spends around £3000 on cigarettes. The ever-overburdened NHS spends approximately £2 billion treating smoking related diseases, whilst businesses spend around £5.8 billion on smoking breaks. Astronomical costs all round.
Quick and easy ways to quit smoking are therefore highly sought after, and currently e-cigarettes are ranking top of the list. There is, however, some debate into the health benefits of switching to e-cigarettes in the long-term, simply due to the relatively short time they have been on the market. The short term benefits, though, are undeniable.
E-cigarettes provide that nicotine hit without any of the nasties produced by tobacco, such as tar and carbon monoxide. They work by heating a liquid in the cigarette that creates a vapour which is then smoked by the user. Different strengths of nicotine are available, ranging from 0-24mg, to help you gradually reduce your intake and, consequently, your cravings. Dramatically reducing it usually results in relapses and is unsustainable, hence the popularity of this more tailor-made form of nicotine replacement therapy. You can also get a variety of liquid flavours to add some excitement and intrigue to the process, whilst also eliminating the smell of tobacco smoke.
There are many who voice uncertainty over the health effects of smoking this chemical liquid. Smoking e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’, is a relatively new concept, so obviously the long-term effects of it are still unknown. However, Public Health England has said the current expert estimate is that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than tobacco cigarettes. Whilst not risk-free, the liquid in e-cigarettes (containing nicotine, propylene glycol and/or glycerine and flavourings) are far less harmful than the 4000 chemicals in tobacco, at least 50 of which are cancer-causing. The most elementary distinction between e-cigarettes and tobacco is that the former don’t contain tar and carbon monoxide, which are the two most prominent toxins in cigarette smoke.
The most effective way of using e-cigarettes to quit smoking is to do it slowly and combined with expert support from the NHS stop smoking services, which can help you regulate and control your use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. The NHS says that “people who use e-cigarettes too little or too rarely have less success at quitting smoking”. Studies have shown that those who use e-cigarettes – and that’s around 40% of those trying to quit – are 60% more likely to quit than those who go cold turkey, i.e. without using nicotine replacement therapy. Public Health England has also said that if all smokers switched to e-cigarettes then the death-toll would be reduced to approximately 4000 a year. That’s the top experts’ best estimate at the moment. You can’t ask fairer than that.
Content supplied by Matthew Finch of Distinctly