Global charities and health campaigners are calling on smokers to quit their deadly cigarette habit on World No Tobacco Day.
Cancer Research UK has released new analysis which estimates one person dies every five minutes from tobacco in Britain and has called on the government to do more to help smokers quit.
It has launched a petition to coincide with World No Tobacco Day today, asking for the Prime Minister to establish a “Smokefree Fund ” which would help pay for the cost of tobacco control, which it says is seriously underfunded.
Meanwhile, a group of leading tobacco harm reduction groups including World Vapers’ Alliance have been highlighting vaping’s role in cutting death and disease from smoking with the launch of World Vape Day yesterday (May 30th).
Now in its fourth year, the event saw the worldwide vaping community champion global harm reduction efforts and the benefits of using e-cigarettes - which Public Health England deems to be 95 per cent safer than tobacco - as an effective way of switching away from cigarettes.
And on World No Tobacco Day they - along with members of the European Parliament and consumer activists - are pushing for a more open approach towards harm reduction in the EU, with a focus not on fighting vaping but looking at how becoming a smoke-free country can be achieved - such as Sweden, which is about to celebrate that status this year.
Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, said today:
“World No Tobacco Day is a sad reminder that a new approach in the fight against smoking is needed".
“Instead of fighting less harmful alternatives like vaping, the EU and WHO must start accepting reality: harm reduction works! Sweden is becoming the first smoke-free country this year due to a consumer-friendly harm reduction approach. It is high time to learn from the Swedish experience and thereby save millions of lives. With a smart harm reduction approach, we can reach a smoke-free Europe way sooner than the target.”
Sweden is about to become the first country in the world to achieve a daily smoking rate below 5%, a benchmark to qualify it as a smoke-free country, 17 years ahead of the EU’s target while almost all other countries are failing.
The drop in smokers is thanks to the country’s use of legal alternative nicotine products including snus and e-cigarettes. According to Global State Of Tobacco Harm Reduction, Sweden has 92,000 vapers in the country, giving an adult vaping prevalence of 1.1 per cent, with vape products sold legally with vape packaging that contains a health warning.
MEP Charlie Weimers said:
“Policy should be evidence-based. WHO will soon classify Sweden as Europe’s first smoke-free country because of harm reduction policies and widespread use of snus.”
To reinforce the impact of the Swedish model, MEP Johann Nissinen said:
“It is clear that smoking kills, and we need to do everything we can to prevent those unnecessary deaths. Sweden is the best example of how this is achievable, namely with a pragmatic harm reduction approach. It is the only country in the EU where snus is legal and popular with 18% of the population using it. Consuming snus instead of cigarettes saved many Swedish lives. It is time that the EU Commission expects this reality and starts acting accordingly.”
Carissa Düring, a spokesperson for a non-profit consumer organisation, Considerate Pouchers, added:
“It has always surprised me why not more countries allow a product like snus that has helped millions quit smoking and has been safely used for more than 200 years in Sweden. Sweden is a natural experiment that shows that harm reduction works. The low smoking rates speak for themselves.”
World Vaping Day comes a month after the UK’s own vaping awareness month - VApril - the world’s largest vaping education campaign - which offers a wealth of information, advice and resources to encourage smokers to make a “life-changing switch” to e-cigarettes.
And it’s not too late for UK smokers who want to join the estimated 4.3million who have already taken the plunge as the VApril website continues to offer advice about finding the right vaping device, flavours and nicotine strengths to give them the best chance to kick their cigarette habit as well as videos and stories from those who made the switch.
A five-step ‘Start Vaping, Stop Smoking’ guide designed by experts which clearly sets out how to make a successful switch, is also available to download.
And with only 34% of adults who smoke accurately believing vaping was less harmful than smoking in 2021, according to a government review, there are plenty of facts and figures to address any concerns or queries participants may have.
There is also a new 2023 guide on vaping responsibly - from how you can take a responsible approach to vaping in public to disposing of your device in an environmentally-friendly way.
Organiser of the campaign, UKVIA’s John Dunne highlighted the importance of letting smokers know vaping is one of the most effective ways of quitting, while echoing Director of World Vapers’ Alliance, Michael Landl’s opinion that negative campaigning surrounding vaping is damaging smokers’ chances of a “better life”.
“Research time and time again has evidenced that vaping is the most effective way to quit, much more so than nicotine patches and gums."
“And the need for education is greater than ever before with many segments of the media, as well as highly questionable, unsubstantiated, and misleading research, putting serious doubts into the minds of smokers looking to quit their habits by switching to vapes, as well as those who have already managed to give up through vaping.
“We continue to see regular research and news stories with no backbone. Research which says vaping ‘could’ or ‘may’ lead to health issues. Stories which suggest individuals have health conditions because of vaping despite the fact they previously smoked for many years or are dual users. These are just two examples but there are many more.”