Recent studies are showing a marked increase in the number of smokers who are now using – or have used, at least once – the electronic version of cigarettes, which are known as “electronic cigarettes” or e-cigs, for short.
In a survey by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) March of this year, it was revealed that 50% of the sample composed of 12,000 adult smokers has tried e-cigs. That is a great leap from the 8% figure back when the survey was first conducted in 2010.
Similar studies conducted in the past revealed that the primary reason why smokers shift to electronic cigarettes is to quit smoking altogether. According to Deborah Arnott, ASH Chief Executive Officer, smokers are mostly inclined to switch to electronic cigarettes either to cut back on the habit or completely put a stop to it. ASH’s findings hold that 71% of former smokers turned to e-cigs in order to be able to kick the habit, while 48% just wanted to tone it down a bit.
Smoking also happens to be quite an expensive habit, and so it came as no surprise that 37% of the respondents who are ex-smokers chose to use e-cigs because it is cheaper and does not cost as much as traditional cigarettes. Indeed, users of e-cigs also show a clear preference for brands or models that allow replacement of cartridges and recharging of batteries, seeing as they are more low-cost in the long run.
It is also worth noting in ASH’s survey that, out of the 50% e-cigarette users, only 1% have never tried smoking regular cigarettes and started smoking by using e-cigs right off the bat.
It is to this end that Arnott stressed on the pervasive need for monitoring of the marketing and advertising campaigns of electronic cigarettes. They must not be geared towards children, and neither should the ads encourage non-smokers to take up smoking, electronic version notwithstanding. However, she also denounced the declaration by many that e-cigs work towards encouraging smokers and non-smokers alike to be addicted to the habit, stating that there is no evidence pointing to the fact.
Despite the presence of other tools geared towards quitting smoking, such as nicotine patches, gums, and other nicotine delivery products, e-cigarettes remain to be the preferable choice among more smokers. This was credited to the downward trend of smoking in England. There was also a noticeable rise in the number of smokers who have completely quit smoking. These were the results of The Smoking Toolkit Study, another England-based study on the use of e-cigarettes.
One of the proponents of these studies, Professor Robert West, admitted that, while there is no conclusive proof that e-cigarettes singlehandedly lent smoking more social acceptability, they sure come in handy for people who want to smoke less or stop smoking altogether.
On the other hand, smokers welcome the entrance of e-cigs in the market, since it gives smokers more choice. Simon Clark, Director of the pro-smoking group, Forest, appreciates how e-cigs allows smokers the freedom to choose what to smoke.
Clark disputed that e-cigs have any impact at all in the number of smokers who are quitting. In fact, he does not acknowledge any downward trend. After all, e-cigs are still a new technology that remains a strange concept to the major part of the smoking population. Those who do try out e-cigs simply do it out of curiosity more than the actual need and desire to quit smoking. He added that it would still take some time, and more technological improvements to e-cigs, before it becomes widely accepted.