Single-use e-cigarettes continue to be debated around the world. Some countries, such as France, are preparing a possible ban on the products. The reasons vary, but mainly relate to youth use and environmental concerns. Now a similar debate has flared up in the UK, the promised land of e-cigarettes.
Discussions about a ban on disposable weapons have been circulating in the British media for some months. The opposition in Parliament has already proposed an outright ban, a proposal unlikely to be supported by the majority. At the same time, reports the online newspaper the Telegraph a rumour that the majority, conservative government is also working on a similar proposal.
Health scientists enter the debate
As a result of the debate, several health experts in the scientific and governmental spheres have taken to the media to warn policymakers of the consequences of banning single-use weapons.
"E-cigarettes as a category are the most effective tool for quitting smoking today. They are twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products. We have no direct studies on how single-use models play a role in smoking cessation, but if we ban them, we will never know," says Mr Perez. Sharon Cox, Research Director in Tobacco and Addiction Studies at University Collage London to The Telegraph.
E-cigs drive down smoking rates
The claim that the UK has been promoting itself as an e-cig-friendly country is not out of the blue. The promotion of e-cigarettes has since 2015 as part of the UK authorities' measures to reduce smoking in the country. And according to several reports, it has been a successful concept. Smoking has been declining at an accelerated rate since 2010 when the products were introduced to the market, and deliberately mild but strict legislation has accelerated this trend.
"Nobody is saying that e-cigs are risk-free"
The Health Authority has published a yearly updated report on relative and absolute risksr with e-cigarettes to inform smokers about the differences between vaping and smoking. The message is that vaping is a much less harmful way to use nicotine than smoking.
"No one has ever claimed that vaping is completely risk-free. But if you're a smoker, switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your health," says Mr Gates. Sharon Coxwho has contributed to research in this area on several occasions.
Handing out free e-cigarettes
At the same time as the UK government unveiled a series of comprehensive measures to reduce smoking in the country, it also launched a programme of distribute e-cigarettes for free to one million smokers in the country. A ban on the popular disposable models would likely affect the effective outcome of that project, according to the report. Sharon Cox. Despite the clear message from the health authorities, a growing proportion of smokers believe that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as cigarettes. This is contrary to the evidence that is available, according to Sharon Cox.
"If we ban a whole category of products in the segment, it is likely to fuel these misconceptions. How should we respond to that?" says Sharon Cox to The Telegraph.
Smoking costs the health sector huge amounts of money
Smoking is costing British society a lot in terms of healthcare for smoking-related diseases, points out that Sharon Cox. A recent economic report showed that an increased shift among smokers from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, whose health effects are estimated to be significantly less than those of smoking, would ... save the health sector half a billion British pounds (equivalent to over 5 billion Swedish kronor). Annually.
"The problems caused by smoking are far from solved. Nearly 13 million Britons still smoke. This represents a huge cost to the health service," says Sharon Cox.
Want to go smoke-free by 2030
Similar concerns exist in the UK government, at least within the Department of Health.
"We want more Britons to quit smoking. It's an important step towards achieving a smoke-free society by 2030. It's also why we're raising awareness of vaping and ensuring that one million smokers have the opportunity to try e-cigarettes to quit smoking, at no cost to them," an anonymous Department of Health representative told the Telegraph.
"At the same time, we are concerned about the increased uptake of vaping among minors. The environmental aspects are also worrying, with disposable models ending up in the environment being an acute problem."
Taking opinions before decisions
However, the spokesperson wants to play down the rumours of a ban. And that more measures will to be presented shortly.
"We have launched an open consultation to gather views and ideas on how best to tackle the youth use and environmental risks of e-cigarettes. This will provide valuable advice on how we as a government can move forward on this issue," they told The Telegraph.