Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said he opposed e-cigarettes being advertised as another ‘cool’ thing to attract young smokers, reminding they must also carry a health warning.
Young British people are increasingly giving up traditional smoking and turning to e-cigarettes more rapidly than anyone else in Europe, a new report has found.
According to the research, Brits have switched to vaping at the rate of one person every four minutes during the last four years.
In total, the report reveals that 2.2 million British people now use e-cigarettes representing a 55% increase in just three years, followed by 1.5 million French, 760,000 Italians, and 750,000 Germans.
The report, which was conducted by Ernst & Young on behalf of British American Tobacco, shows the number of Poles using e-cigarettes has rocketed by nearly 250% in the last three years, to 756,000. It, also, highlighted that 850,000 Brits had fully quit smoking by using e-cigarettes, while half of French people had given up traditional smoking completely.
This “may be related” to statements by Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health in the UK, and others, which “have argued that they are 95% less harmful than cigarettes,” the researchers noted. According to vapers, their main reasons for using the new devices were because “they saw them as less harmful than cigarettes and because they helped them cut back or quit smoking”.
Last year (April), the Royal College of Physicians, a British professional body dedicated to improving the practice of medicine, published a report backing the argument that e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health.
“Smokers can, therefore, be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking,” the report concluded.
Andriukaitis: “Not acceptable”
Contacted by euractiv.com, Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis reacted strongly, saying, “I am against e-cigarettes being advertised as another ‘cool’ thing to do attracting the youngest.”
“This is just not acceptable”.
“Our job is to make sure that our children don’t start smoking and I will be doing everything I can to make sure this message is heard,” he added.
The EU health chief continued, saying that like other tobacco products, the health impact of electronic cigarettes must be closely followed.
“This is why, in the new EU law, we have foreseen specific safety standards for e-cigarettes. They also need to feature a health warning. If they are sold to help people quit smoking, then this must be done in a proper manner and their consumption should be followed by a specialist,” Andriukaitis said.
Peter Arnold, Director at Ernst & Young, said: “Our report shows that this is a rapidly growing and evolving market. Consumers are driving innovation in devices, flavours and nicotine levels. There are now more regular consumers and evidence of increased migration from dual to sole use.”
Kingsley Wheaton, Managing Director for Next Generation Products at British American Tobacco, said the UK had one of the most progressive regulatory environments for e-cigarettes, which is reflected in consumer uptake.
“The UK government has created an environment which enables consumers to be informed about the products, have access to them and allows manufacturers to innovate and provide quality vaping products,” he said, adding that with many UK experts in science and health endorsing e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking “uptake of e-cigarettes can only be a good thing”.