Tobacco companies have always been deceptive about their marketing practices and about their active role in the development of less harmful products. There are roughly around 1.3 billion combustible tobacco users worldwide and the number of smoking-related fatalities is about 6 million. This means that 18 out of every 100 people that die do it from a form of tobacco-related disease. But that’s not all, because for every fatality, there are another 20 smokers suffering from induced illnesses. These in turn account for a yearly average of around 450,000 hospital admissions.
Leading a long battle with tobacco is the World Health Organization, that’s putting pressure on smokers through banning advertising and marketing, increased excise taxes and promoting smoke free offices. Some long term predictions are optimistic and say that these types of policies could reduce the number of smokers in the U.S. by half until 2030. That sounds like very good news, but it still leaves millions of tobacco users at risk. It is estimated that until 2100 there will be a total of 1 billion tobacco related deaths across the globe if we follow current trend.
However, there are products on the market that have the potential of saving a big part of these lives, but they are facing a lot of opposition from activists and so many legal hurdles. Snus is a smokeless tobacco patch that is very popular in Sweden where people keep it between the upper lip and gum to get a nicotine kick. Using snus has helped Swedish men to have one of the lowest mortality rates in the whole European Union. Fatalities are 2.5% higher in the entire EU as compared to Sweden. And as more and more people went and bought snus, smoking rates have plummeted. However, snus has been banned in the EU (except Sweden) but it is available in Norway (not part of the EU). Here smoking rates have fallen 20% since the introduction of the product back in 1985.
Another product that’s becoming increasingly popular across the globe are the electronic cigarette and portable vaporizers (Check out www.Davincivaporizer.com). These are battery powered gizmos that vaporize a nicotine laced fluid in the form of an inhalable mist. It mimics the experience of smoking on a traditional tobacco but without the smoke, tar, ash and thousands of chemicals. However, the e-cigarette does not have a license to be sold as a smoking cessation tool and also it sparked a lot of controversy mainly because it’s resemblance to actual cigarettes and some poorly documented scientific studies.
It is estimated that around 2.1 million Britons use electronic cigarettes, out of which two thirds are dual users (smokers and vapers at the same time) and about one third have managed to completely give up on tobacco products. According to surveys, about 38% of vapers claim that ecigs helped them quit entirely, while 25% claim it has helped them reduce the number of smokes. At the same time, according to scientists, the number of ecig users that are non-smokers is negligible.
Because of the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, there has been a decline in the sales of traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy products such as inhalers, patches and gum. At the same time, successful smoking cessation stories are between 5-7% even though the number of people that want to quit smoking is on the rise. This is where e-cigarette could play a major role in helping smokers kick the habit; however there are still many safety concerns regarding these products.
Two studies have concluded that, in the case of current smokers the transition to e-cigarettes could have significant health benefits, yet legislators and organizations are still not convinced.
The US Food and Drug Administration is still working on legislation to regulate the whole e-cigarette industry but things are moving at a slow pace, mainly because of the lack of scientific evidence to support the benefits of these smokeless devices. But because they were introduced on the market less than a decade ago, it’s hard to get a clear understanding about their effects on the long term.
But there is still hope for the e-cigarette, because with more and more research underway the results look promising. However, legislators should compare the effects of e-cigarettes to those of tobacco, not with those of inhaling fresh air.