Latest stop smoking campaign includes an online guide to where your nearest e-cigarette shop is
One person quits smoking every 80 seconds in England, official figures show as health chiefs predict the end of the killer habit is in sight.
Public Health England estimates only one in ten people will still be smokers in five years and the nation could become smoke-free by 2030.
The prediction comes as the body launched its annual Stoptober campaign, encouraging smokers to join a mass quit attempt next month.
TV host Jeremy Kyle – a smoker of 35 years – has even been enlisted to give his public backing to vaping saying it was ‘really helping’ him to stay smoke free.
As part of the campaign, health chiefs are sending smokers to controversial vaping shops despite growing fears over safety.
Public Health England estimates only one in ten people will still be smokers in five years and the nation could become smoke-free by 2030
PHE’s campaign includes a new website that directs people to an online guide to e-cigarette sellers in their local area.
They are asked to complete an online questionnaire about their smoking habits before clicking on a link to find their ‘local specialist vape shop’.
PHE revealed more than a million smokers have kicked the habit since 2014 – with 400,000 in England alone last one.
It said smoking rates among adults in the country are on track to fall to 10 per cent by 2023. They are currently at 14.9 per cent.
England has the second lowest smoking rates in Europe and Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, last week said he wants them to fall further to five per cent.
And The Telegraph reports that officials believe the country could be considered smoke-free by 2030, if current trends continue.
The decision to link up with the vaping industry comes just days after a PHE advisor quit over the organisation’s partnership with the alcohol industry’s Drinkaware.
Scientists last night criticised the government health body for promoting the sales of ‘unproven products’, many of which are made by the tobacco industry.
They warned while e-cigarettes are generally thought to be less harmful than cigarettes, studies have linked their use to heart disease and cancer.
Professor Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the endorsement is further proof England is ‘out of step’ with the rest of the world.
He said: ‘Only a week after being criticised for its partnership with an alcohol industry funded organisation it is now being reported that PHE is promoting sales of unproven products from the tobacco industry.
‘This coincides with the US Food and Drug Administration responding vigorously to new evidence of a rapid increase in their use among adolescents. England’s approach to vaping is raising eyebrows abroad.’
As part of the campaign, health chiefs are sending smokers to controversial vaping shops despite growing fears over safety
Officials are also encouraging smokers not to ‘go cold turkey’ as the method may hamper a person’s chance of successfully quitting.
Vaping is endorsed as part of the new ‘Personal Quit Plan’ which asks people to enter their postcode before displaying shops with names including Vampire Vaping, The Puffin Hut and Totally Wicked.
PHE has long been criticised for its approach to e-cigarettes.
In 2015 it claimed in a landmark report that vaping was ’95 per cent safe’ – a claim that was widely criticised when it emerged that it originated with scientists in the pay of the e-cigarette industry.
The Lancet medical journal at the time warned that PHE had based a ‘major conclusion’ on an ‘extraordinarily flimsy foundation’.
Twelve months ago PHE controversially promoted e-cigarettes for the first time in 30-second television advertisements as part of last year’s quit smoking campaign.
IS THE END OF SMOKING ‘IN SIGHT’ IN THE UK?
The end of smoking is finally ‘in sight’, officials claimed in June 2017 following figures that suggested another drop in rates across the UK.
Just one in six adults now regularly light up cigarettes – with 680,000 having given up the habit completely in 2016.
The numbers of smokers dropped from 19.9 per cent in 2010 to just 15.5 per cent in 2016 in England alone, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Across all ages smoking prevalence is in decline, with the largest fall in 18-to-24 year olds, while e-cigarette use is on the rise in this age group.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said the UK has the second lowest smoking rate in Europe after Sweden, which proves that the Government’s tobacco-control policies are effective.
However, it came in the same week that another official body – the clinical guidelines watchdog Nice – told GPs not to recommend e-cigarettes because there is limited evidence over whether they are safe.
An estimated 3.2 million adults use vaping devices in Great Britain but around half of current vapers still smoke as well, according to the latest data.
With up to two new vaping shops opening in the UK a day, they have been described as a blight on the high street.
A study by the Royal Society of Public Health last year found nine of ten retailers happily sold e-cigarettes to people who had never smoked – contravening their own retail guidelines.
They found many promoted the devices as lifestyle accessories rather than smoking cessation aids, often those owned by tobacco giants such as Philip Morris’s IQOS.
Earlier this year, a panel of lung experts described vaping as a ‘one-way bridge’ to smoking tobacco and said it could spark a health crisis in decades to come.
But PHE defended the move, saying only independent e-cigarettes shops are listed on the website, by the Independent British Vape Trade Association.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy medical director at Public Health England, said: ‘As well as vape shops, we work with a large number of commercial businesses to deliver Stoptober including pharmacies and supermarkets.
‘Members of the IBVTA are not owned or linked in any way to the tobacco industry and are subject to a code of conduct that bans marketing to non-smokers or selling to under-18s.
‘Specialist vape shops are ideally placed to advise people looking to use e-cigarettes to help them quit.
‘And specialist stop smoking services can also provide additional support to quitters looking to use an e-cig, which will give them the best chance of quitting successfully.’
What is an e-cigarette and how is it different to smoking tobacco?
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows users to inhale nicotine by heating a vapour from a solution that contain nicotine, propylene and flavourings.
As there is no burning involved, there is no smoke like a traditional cigarette.
But while they have been branded as carrying a lower risk than cigarettes, an increasing swell of studies is showing health dangers.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, but the vapor does contain some harmful chemicals.
Nicotine is the highly addictive chemical which makes it difficult for smokers to quit.
Nearly three million people in Britain use e-cigarettes, and more than nine million Americans.
1. Standard e-cigarette
Battery-powered device containing nicotine e-liquid.
It vaporizes flavored nicotine liquid.
Very similar to normal e-cigarettes but with sleeker design and a higher concentration of nicotine.
Thanks to its ‘nicotine salts’, manufacturers claim one pod delivers the amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
It is composed of an e-cigarette (battery and temperature control), and a pod of e-liquid which is inserted at the end.
The liquid contains nicotine, chemicals and flavorings.
Like other vaping devices, it vaporizes the e-liquid.
3. IQOS by Philip Morris
Pen-shaped, charged like an iPod.
It is known as a ‘heat not burn’ smokeless device, heating tobacco but not burning it (at 350C compared to 600C as normal cigarettes do).
The company claims this method lowers users’ exposure to carcinogen from burning tobacco.