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It’s VApril, and if you’re a smoker, there’s never been a better time to give up. It’s the second annual vaping awareness and education campaign taking place around the UK, and again this year, VApril is fronted by TV medic Dr Christan Jessen, of Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize vs Superskinny fame. The endeavour aims to convince people that using an e-cigarette is almost completely harmless compared to smoking cigarettes, and to help get them off their risky, and deadly, addiction.
Smoking has become highly socially unacceptable — witnessed by people standing outside pubs and offices to have a cigarette. So harmful are the effects of secondhand smoke that it’s long been illegal to smoke indoors in public places — a lot of us are still at it, including many people here in Bournemouth. But there are still around 9.4 million adults regularly puffing away in the UK, and the harm they’re doing to themselves is astounding: tobacco leads to the deaths of an estimated 115,000 people in Britain every year.
Like in other countries, cigarette smoking in the UK has become the leading cause of preventable death. The global death toll from tobacco is in the region of around 7 million people annually, nearly 1 million of whom die from secondhand-smoke inhalation. Here, the NHS is trying everything it can to get people to stop smoking and has been urging smokers to take up vaping instead. Vaping means they get the nicotine they want but avoid the toxic cocktail of chemicals that cause cancers and other diseases in the body.
Speaking Up for VApril
Currently, there are around 3 million people who vape in the UK, many of whom are former smokers and managed to finally give up with the help of an e-cigarette. “I believe vaping has overwhelming potential to help smokers make the switch, which matters because stopping smoking is the single most significant step that people can make to improve their health. I’m proud to Speak up for Vaping this VApril,” says Dr Jessen of this year’s campaign.
So how can VApril help people to get off cigarettes and become healthier? Like last year, the campaign — which is organised by the UK Vaping Industry Association — wants smokers to challenge themselves right now and try and give up smoking. It encourages smokers to make the switch to vaping by taking part in a four-step programme designed to help get them off tobacco and onto vapes — and it can be downloaded for free from the VApril website.
The first step is deciding to start using e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation method, based on what smokers may have already heard about vaping — such as research from Public Health England, which says it’s “at least 95% less harmful” than lighting up. Then it’s on to choosing the best e-cig for smokers, the one that’s right for their needs and that has the right amount of nicotine in the vape juice. This is an important consideration, as vape juice comes in a number of strengths: low, medium and high, as well as none. So if you’re a heavy smoker and start vaping with low-strength nicotine, chances are you’re going to be unsatisfied and may go back to smoking.
Vaping Waiting Game
VApril’s “Switch on to Vaping Plan” next encourages those making the transition from smoking to vaping to be patient. It says smokers may have friends who tried vaping and loved it from the moment they started, but if they don’t have the same experience, to give it some time while they get used to e-cigarettes. Then, in step four of the switching programme, it’s just a matter of sticking with vaping permanently — and staying off cigarettes.
“I am excited that there are now over 3 million vapers in the UK who have made that life-changing decision to switch from smoking,” said Dr Jessen. “But yet, according to Public Health England, an incredible 40% of smokers have never even tried vaping,” he said. “Research suggests that if you can make it to 28 days without a cigarette, you are five times more likely to quit for good.”
The campaign is also running vaping “masterclasses” at selected vape stores around the UK, where people can learn about vape gear, vape juice and how to start vaping. If you’re a smoker, this VApril may be the best chance you have of stubbing out for good.