With the success of Stoptober, many would like to see similar endorsements made all year in favor of vaping
Since 2012, the UK has held an annual smoking cessation campaign in October, aptly named Stoptober. This program has proven very successful at engaging people and getting them thinking about quitting. It wasn’t until this year though that the organizers finally decided to incorporate e-cigarettes into their promotional materials. Even before this year, an estimated half a million of the 1.5 million smokers who have attempted quitting during Stoptober, used vaping as a tool to help them. This being the first year that vaping was officially incorporated into the campaign, it’s also the first year we have robust figures on their success. The initial findings are indicating a great deal of success in getting people to try e-cigarettes. One possible reason for the increased success is the shared psychological cues between vaping and smoking, such as bringing your hand to your face and producing a cloud.
Push For A Sustained Effort
With such positive results being reported, members of British Parliament are now considering if this sort of campaign should be a year-long effort, or continue only to be pushed in October. Leading this effort is the Vice-Chair of the All Political Party Group (APPG) on E-Cigarettes, Mark Pawsey MP. In his prepared statement submitted to the House Of Commons, he said “The positive public health message regarding vaping has up to now been failing to get across to the UK’s remaining 7.6 million smokers. The Public Health England campaign was a welcome change and has had an obvious effect, but it needs to be sustained, not just a one off.” He sees this as a critical moment in which we can capitalize on the momentum of the campaign, instead of letting it be forgotten until next year.
Reports from the leading vaping trade organization in the UK, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) found that most retailers saw a massive increase in sales in October. Even more encouraging, the vast majority of the increased sales reported were Starter Kits. Indicating that most of these gains were from smokers looking to try vaping for the first time. Vape Club and JAC Vapour both had substantial increases in starter kit sales compared with last year, 37% and 65% respectively. The largest brick and mortar vape chain in the UK, Vaporized, saw a 40% increase in sales this year compared with last October.
Why It Matters
One reason for the suggested increase in vaping promotion concerns trends over the last few years. For example, the number of vapers in the UK increased by 86% in 2013, 62% in 2014, 24% in 2015, and only a minuscule 4% in 2016. Even more concerning, the number of people who correctly believe that vaping is much less dangerous than smoking dropped by 11%, from 31% in 2015 to 20% last year. In fact, many people think that vaping is just as, if not more, harmful than smoking. That figured almost quadrupled since 2013, from 7% to 26%. The members of the APPG believe that the plethora of conflicting information on e-cigarettes in the media is driving these negative trends. Making it even more critical that vaping is supported as being 95% safer than smoking, as well as being proven to help smokers quit.
In addition, the APPG on E-Cigarettes recommended a couple of possible actions to take moving forward. First, they called for a total review of the government’s vaping regulations that currently essentially consider vaping and smoking the same. As part of that move, they’d like to see the policy creation done with input from all of the relevant players, such as legislators, researchers, public health officials, and the vaping industry themselves. They would also like to consider implementing similar policies to the ones promoted in the UK countries of Scotland and Wales.
They hope that these policies will reverse the negative public perception trends seen over the last five years, as well as accelerate the continued drop in smoking rates around the entire UK. The UK is once again proving why they are the world leaders in supporting e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. Legislators from around the world should take a page and begin supporting vaping because of all the positive things it can do.
Do you think it’s important to support vaping as a smoking cessation tool? Do you think it will make a difference if the UK starts promoting e-cigarettes all year? How can we best start a discussion about implementing similar campaigns around the world?