November 22, 2016

E-cigs saving 407,550 British lives

E-cigs saving 407,550 British lives

The UK’s burgeoning e-cigarette industry offers the greatest gift to public health since the discovery of penicillin. We must nurture its growth, not stifle it, says William Walter.

E-cigarettes save lives. There are around 2.6 million ‘vapers’ in the UK, of whom one-third are former smokers and two-thirds are so-called ‘dual-users’: vapers who still smoke. Public Health England estimates e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. And this differential is important. Half of all regular smokers die from their addiction. In the UK, just shy of 100,000 lives are lost every year because of smoking related diseases.

Time for a bit of maths. Assuming Public Health England’s estimate of the relative harm of smoking to vaping translates directly to lives lost (a pretty big ask), it would mean that in the UK alone vaping has already saved the lives of some 407,550 people (95 per cent (relative harm) of one-half (number of smokers that die from their habit) of one-third (proportion of vapers who have given up smoking) of 2.6 million (number of vapers in the UK)). Obviously, this kind of calculation is racked with difficulties. Aside from the relative harm assumption, the calculation also assumes that the third of vapers who have given up traditional cigarettes won’t go back to them, and that by switching to vaping they will not incur any of the legacy health consequences their smoking habit has gifted them. But, conversely, the calculation takes no account of the two-thirds of vapers who are ‘dual users’. It can be reasonably assumed that by taking up vaping, these smokers have reduced their regular consumption of cigarettes, which in turn would lead to commensurate health benefits and, hopefully, a reduction in lives lost.

Even if this calculation’s wrong and ditching the fags in favour of vaping only results in, say, half the estimated lives saved my calculation predicts, it would still mean 203,775 lives have been saved. These figures certainly don’t seem unrealistic given Public Health England publicly estimated that up to 76,000 lives would be saved every year if all smokers switched to electronic cigarettes.

But what about all those for whom vaping’s a gateway on to smoking? A legitimate concern, but so far the evidence doesn’t support it. It’s estimated that fewer than one per cent of vapers had never smoked before they began vaping. In fact, since electronic cigarettes have been on the market, smoking prevalence has declined among children.

Another concern are the longer-term effects of e-cigarettes on vaper’s health. While there’s a greater bank of research regarding the effects nicotine has on the human body, less is known about the effects of ingesting nicotine and some of the other chemicals present in e-liquids such as diacetyl and glycerol, via the lungs. But even the worst-case scenario of vaping’s long-term effect pales in comparison to the known long-term effects of traditional cigarettes on public health. Consumers and policy makers alike are confronted with a choice between two products: one that is known to kill one-in-two of its users, or another which independent medical experts deem to be 95 per cent safer, but whose long-term effects are not known, and will not be known for at least another decade or two, but are certain to be less than those of traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are a game changer. For the first time since the introduction of the modern-day cigarette over a century ago, smokers have a real and viable alternative, allowing them to enjoy the pleasurable effects of nicotine, but without the ensuing negative health consequences associated with smoking tobacco.

But there’s a catch. Rather than capitalise on the greatest gift to public health since the discovery of penicillin, officials are caught like a rabbit in the headlights. Meddling mandarins in Brussels have conspired with bumbling bureaucrats in Westminster to transpose arbitrary restrictions on e-cigarettes that threaten to squander our chance to rescue countless smokers from the perils of their habit and to gift them a second chance at life. The restrictions, which were dreamt up in Brussels and written into law over here earlier this year are wide ranging, but the most punitive see limits imposed on both the size of e-liquid containers and the amount of nicotine they can contain. The upshot of these arbitrary restrictions is that they make e-cigarettes a less appealing option to would be smokers desperate to kick their habit.

One suggestion talked about in Westminster is the passing of an amendment to the anticipated Great Repeal Bill, under which the EU-made laws within the bill would stop being in force after five years. Such a ‘sunset clause’ would deliver the twin benefit of liberating the arbitrary constraints imposed on the UK’s embryonic e-cigarette industry, while also throwing off the shackles of other Brussels born bureaucracy. Tempting.

4.33 avg. rating (86% score) - 6 votes
William Walter
William Walter is the Founder and Editor of Comment Central. He began his career in Parliament working for three Conservative MPs — the then Shadow Minister for Universities & Skills, Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Opposition Treasury whip, James Duddridge MP, and former Shadow Pensions Minister, Nigel Waterson MP. In addition to his Parliamentary work he has also written for a range of publications, including: The Daily Telegraph, City AM, Metro and Conservative Home.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. and

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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