E-cigarettes become the most popular UK 'quitting aid' with 1.3 million users
Despite electronic cigarettes still being in their international infancy, they are now thought to be the UK's most popular smoking cessation aid with 1.3 million users.
According to the latest available figures, over 25 per cent of attempts to stop smoking in the UK are now supported by e-cigarettes, overtaking longstanding cessation aids such as throat sprays, patches and nicotine gum.
The popularity of e-cigarettes, aside from their visual and ritualistic similarity to traditional cigarettes, can be attributed to some glowing recommendations from medical organisations. Independent research, such as that undertaken by Senior University Lecturer Dr. Lynne Dawkins, has found that since July 2009 the number of people using e-cigarettes in order to quit smoking has now risen to a record level. The trend is doubling year on year.
E-cigarettes are a form of 'Personal Vapouriser' (PV), which deliver nicotine via the inhalation of an atomised vapour drawn from the e-cigarette cartridge or reservoir. This process is without the toxins attributed to the combustion of tobacco, and is therefore a healthier method of nicotine intake.
A representative from e-cigarette brand Nicolites commented on the figures: “As electronic cigarettes contain a measured dose of nicotine, an individual looking to stop smoking can still satisfy their cravings for nicotine but help reduce the amount of exposure to the harmful chemicals and toxins that are found in traditional cigarettes.
"Because electric cigarettes are available in a range of nicotine strengths, not only can you control your nicotine intake, but e-cigarettes can be used as a method of helping to stop smoking."
Despite this, E-cigarette manufacturers in the UK do not make any claims that they aid the quitting process. This would be a medicinal claim and would mean that their products would require medical licensing.
As consumer products that seek to compete with other recreational nicotine sources, the obvious opponent is tobacco cigarettes. The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, known as ECITA, says that forcing e-cigarettes to compete only in the medicinal category would limit their appeal to a tiny fragment of the nicotine cessation market, whereas allowing them to compete with cigarettes is "quite literally game-changing".
Peter Beckett, Spokesman for ECITA said: "Electronic cigarettes are designed to help those who cannot or will not quit using nicotine altogether. They compete with cigarettes, providing an experience that smokers recognise without the toxins and carcinogens that result from burning tobacco.
"Wells Fargo predict that their use could overtake conventional cigarettes within a decade, a public-health success story in the making at no cost to the taxpayer.
"Making them medicines, as the MHRA and EU propose, would render e-cigarettes less attractive and available than tobacco, protecting the cigarette market and leading to smoking related deaths that could easily have been avoided if smokers could choose a viable alternative."