It was recently revealed that Sajid Javid, still fresh in his new job as health secretary, is set to kick off the next stage in the government’s plan to make England ‘smoke free by 2030’, with a focus on cracking down. against the youngest. smokers. The header proposal is banning the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 21, in the hope that 18-21-year-olds will no longer be able to vape.
If you had never heard of vaping and were faced with that claim, you would forgive yourself for thinking that vaping is a type of smoking and that more young people using e-cigarettes are contributing to an epidemic of young smokers.
The reality is exactly the opposite. Vaping is 200 times less likely to cause cancer than smoking. According to Public Health England, your overall health risks are around 95% smaller than those of traditional cigarettes.
In fact, vaping is not only a safer activity than smoking, it is also actively helpful in helping people quit smoking. Vaping is consistently shown to be the most effective smoking cessation tool by far. It works 74% of the time, a much higher success rate than nicotine patches, abrupt quitting, and any other method of quitting. The result is that 52% of vapers in Britain – roughly 1.7 million people – are ex-smokers.
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So why the heck is the government attacking vaping? If you want England to be ‘smoke-free by 2030’, you should surely encourage current smokers, including young people, who have the longest stretch of potential cigarette smoking ahead, to try the most effective way to quit. to smoke.
The answer lies beyond Whitehall. The World Health Organization, having apparently decided that communicable diseases, new viruses, and pandemics are old news, has some time on its hands. He has used that time to declare war on vaping.
Disconcertingly, his relentless campaign against e-cigarettes is part of what he calls his ‘Tobacco Free Initiative’. The WHO actively opposes the best proven method of eliminating tobacco, calling it an anti-smoking project.
Unfortunately, it seems our government is becoming increasingly susceptible to the screams of the public health lobby, as long as it comes from someone with a job at WHO and a few letters after their name. You are politely doing what you are told and gradually taking down vaping, which will have dire consequences for the harm reduction of tobacco in Britain.
In fairness to Sajid Javid, he is also reportedly considering banning the sale of cigarettes to 18-21 year olds. But the problem with resorting to blanket bans on things the government has decided it doesn’t like is that they are consistently ineffective.
A heartbreaking 2018 NHS study he found that 16% of 11-15 year olds have smoked. Children of that age, of course, are already subject to a ban on the sale of cigarettes. Simply put, bans never work. As one of countless examples, take the 2020 alcohol ban in South Africa, which experienced a huge increase in supermarkets that sell pineapples, yeast, and sugar as homemade kits.
Short-sighted measures that restrict the sales of certain products never affect the number of people who use those products. The War on drugs it is perhaps the last case in question. This proposed policy would have no effect on the number of youth ages 18-21 who purchase cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
All a sales ban would do is push those who vape or smoke into the illegal market, making them less safe by denying them access to licensed and regulated vendors and funneling money directly into the pockets of violent criminal gangs.
Even more fundamental than science or the political consequences of this kind of policy is the principle. If this government believes that young people ages 18-21, who can buy houses, fight wars and marry, are so vulnerable that they need to be protected from watermelon-flavored vapor, then is there some aspect of everyday life that you believe what should do not be subject to extensive state intervention?