Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Study finds that additional support doesn’t improve chances of quitting smoking

A study commissioned by the Department of Health and the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies has found that additional help offered to people wanting to quit smoking, in the form of free nicotine patches and extra counselling, makes little or no difference to their success. 

The research, conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that additional support, on top of that which is already offered as standard from the NHS, did not help smokers to quit.

During the study over 2500 smokers who were trying to quit were followed over the course of a year. The smokers were split into four groups, each of which was offered different methods and levels of support to help them quit smoking. Each group received the standard services offered by the NHS Stop Smoking Services, including advice, emails and access to a helpline, but three groups were also offered ‘additional’ help in the form of an intensive course of counselling, free nicotine replacement patches, or a combination of the two.

The results of the study showed that there was no significant difference in the quitting smoking success rate between the different groups.

Professor Tim Coleman of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies said “on the basis of this study, giving out free nicotine patches and more intensive telephone counselling through the English national quitline just doesn't seem to work.”

In the light of the results of the study, the Department of Health has said that it will no longer offer additional support services to people trying to quit smoking.

Electronic cigarettes are less harmful to the environment

An article published by National Geographic has come out in support of electronic cigarettes, saying that as well as carrying fewer risks to smokers, e cigarettes are much less harmful to the environment.

The article ‘Cigarettes vs. E-cigarettes : Which is Less Harmful’ discusses how cigarette butts, which are still regularly discarded by smokers on pavements and out of car windows, cause not only an unsightly litter problem, but also form a toxic hazard to the environment.

The article explains how cigarette butts can take up to ten years to decompose and can leach chemicals including tar and nicotine, which if washed into the sea or coming into contact with other plant or animal life, can be very harmful. The article’s author, Brian Clark Howard, comments on how electronic cigarettes could help to reduce this problem due to their re-usable nature.

In addition to the re-usable and therefore eco-friendly properties of electronic cigarettes, the other environmental benefit they have over conventional cigarettes is the exhaled ‘smoke’. Not only does the exhaled ‘smoke’ from e-cigs not have the same lingering smell associated with smoking, the vapour exhaled also poses much less of a health risk to anyone inhaling it as ‘passive smoke’. 

This is because the exhaled vapour from electronic cigarettes is not chemical-ridden like that from conventional cigarettes, but is actually only water vapour; produced as a by-product of the process of heating the nicotine in the e-cig.

Find out more information about how ecigarettes work

Smokers viewed as disgusting and dirty outcasts, study finds

Smokers are being turned into ‘lepers’ and are being treated as ‘disgusting and dirty outcasts’, a report by a leading Department of Health adviser has claimed.  

The study, written by Professor Hilary Graham and published by Cambridge University Press last month, said that anti-smoking campaigns and changes in the law to restrict smoking in public places have vilified smokers and turned them into a minority outcast group.

In the report, Professor Graham likened the view towards smokers in society to the way indigenous groups and migrants had been viewed in the past; as threatening and potentially contaminating. In the study, non-smokers who were questioned described smoking as ‘a disgusting habit’.

Her report also goes on to claim that due to this increasing view, the poorest groups in society, who are those most likely to smoke, are being further marginalised and disadvantaged.

Although Professor Graham praised the reduction in smoking levels over the past 60 years, (around 21% of the UK population currently smoke as opposed to around 80% in the 1950’s) she argues that anti-smoking campaigns need to be reviewed to ensure that smokers on low incomes are not being ignored, but are actively being helped.

“The history of public health is scarred by policies which, pursued in the name of health protection and promotion, have served to intensify public vilification and state-sanctioned discrimination against already disadvantaged groups”, commented Professor Graham in the study.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Impact of the UK Smoking Ban & The Ecigarette Solution

It is now six years since the Smoking Ban was fully introduced into the UK, with England following where Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had led before in banning tobacco smoking in workplaces and public spaces. But what impact has this ban had on public health in the last five years?

Late last year a report commissioned by the Government concluded “The law has had a significant impact" and Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) who commented: "It is one of the most important public health acts in the last century. There's no question it's been hugely beneficial."

Despite such praise for the effects of the ban, and increasingly more countries following suit, the rate of smoking hasn’t shown the marked difference that might have been expected prior to the ban’s enforcement. The UK-wide smoking rate has remained fairly steady since 2007 at around 21%. However, some areas of the UK have shown reductions in smoking rates – such as the North East, where the smoking rate dropped from 29% in 2007 to 21% in 2011.

A 2012 survey which questioned over 12,000 people discovered over 78% of British people remained in favour of the smoking ban. And there have been calls from many health campaigners, including the Royal College of Physicians, for the ban to be extended further – to include parks and inside cars. Ultimately, it can be claimed that the workplace ban has worked for those who used it as an aid to cut down their tobacco intake, and for those who wanted to avoid second-hand smoke at work or in leisure.

So where will this leave ordinary smokers, who don’t want to, or can’t stop, smoking cigarettes? Well, if a smoker is unable to stop smoking through the traditional nicotine-replacement methods, an ecigarette will provide a harm-reducing alternative. 

As regular incig customers will know, an ecigarette emits only an odourless vapour and enables the user to smoke indoors and in work without fear of treading on anybody’s toes. So even if the smoking ban is extended to other public areas, those who switch to an ecigarette will continue to be able to enjoy a social cigarette if they choose.

Taking Up Smoking Tops List of Things Britons Most

If we could do it all again it would seem we’d make quite a few major life choices differently, as a new survey shows that taking up smoking is the decision we most regret.

A new survey has revealed that taking up smoking is the thing which Britons most regret doing. Although perhaps not altogether surprising that it is something most of us regret, that it tops the survey which demonstrates just how aware we have become on the impact of smoking and the consequences it can have on people’s lives. 

In the study of more than 2,000 adults, researchers discovered that taking up smoking was the number one regret, beating other complaints such as putting on weight and not saving money. Smokers said the effect cigarettes had on their health, and the associated costs of smoking were the main cause for their regret, two things incidentally which can be lessened by switching to electric cigarettes. Other concerns cited by smokers were the addictive nature of the habit, and additional health reasons including passive smoking and the possibility of dying at a younger age.

The survey found the average Briton has seven major regrets, and that decisions made while they were young had far-reaching consequences on their later lives. Not going to college or university, getting into debt and getting a tattoo were also on the list. 

Commenting on the survey results incig sales director Claire Green said: 'Almost everyone has at least one thing they wish they hadn't done, especially when they were younger. While some regrets are of no consequence, some of the mistakes from your past can have a real effect on your health, bank account and on your entire future.’

Taking up smoking was also the most shared regret, with a third of those responding who said their partner smoked expressing remorse at being in a relationship with a smoker, and almost as many wishing they’d made more effort to make family and friends quit. Perhaps this can account for the increase we saw in customers gifting ecig Starter Kits at Christmas, a trend which fits well into the socially driven nature of giving up smoking.

Not quitting smoking earlier in life also made the top ten, highlighting what a life changing experience it can be for those who do ditch cigarettes. With even ex-smokers regretting giving up sooner, and the increasing availability and acceptance of alternatives to traditional smoking such as our own electronic cigarettes, there is every chance that future surveys won’t have as many smokers to poll for their results.