New data released today in the UK show that smoking has declined from 20.2% of the British adult population in 2010 to 15.8% last year.
The rate of decline demonstrated in the ONS data is astonishing, especially between 2015 and 2016, which saw the second biggest annual drop in smoking in 40 years. Vaping is almost certainly responsible for this, with an estimated 1.5 million vapers in the UK according to ASH UK.
The UK Centre for Alcohol and Tobacco Studies press office said: “Today’s new figures indicate UK smoking is falling faster than would be expected from conventional tobacco control approaches. While all the policies put in place will have made a difference, the most likely explanation for the recent rapid decline is the increasing use by smokers of electronic cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco”
It’s worth noting that this 2015-16 period was one in which Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians began to openly encourage smokers to transition to vaping products. It’s likely that this “official” sanctioning of vaping for smokers has had a transformative effect on smokers, especially those who had been misled by negative media stories.
Shamefully, not one single major health body in the US has taken the same brave stance and encouraged smokers to make the transition. The health community of America has instead constructed an extraordinary campaign of misinformation which continues to vilify one of the most promising public health interventions. Despite the misinformation, vaping has continued to grow with peer-to-peer education
The divergent course between the UK and the USA is starting to become clear. While the UK continues to see rapid declines in smoking under a relatively liberal vaping regulation, the FDA is embarking on a prohibitive rule which will profoundly disrupt access to the products that are currently available.