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Let's Clear the Smoke from our Eyes

11th March 2020

It's National No Smoking Day on 11th March

Let’s clear the smoke from our eyes

Smoking prevalence is at an all-time low in England, but over 6 million people are still smoking.

Smoking rates have declined in England from 17.1% in 2013/14 to 14.5% in 2018/19.

Decreased smoking rates have also been seen among adults with long-term mental health conditions, falling from 35.3% in 2013/14 to 26.8% in 2018/19, however the prevalence remains substantially higher.

While this is fantastic news, we need to see these rates continue to drop.

Why stop smoking?

Here are a few good reasons:

  • You breathe more easily and cough less
  • Your lung capacity improves up to 10% within nine months
  • Your circulation improves, making physical activity easier
  • Your immune system is boosted, making it easier to fight off colds and flu
  • Your tiredness and headaches can be reduced
  • Your stress levels can be lowered
  • Your libido may improve
  • Your fertility may improve
  • Your sense of smell and taste improves
  • Your skin improves
  • Your teeth may become whiter and your breath sweeter
  • Your chances of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age are greatly increased
  • Your loved ones have greater protection living in a smoke-free home.

E-cigarettes – what’s the story?

E-cigarettes, also known as Vapourisers or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), are handheld battery-operated devices which deliver nicotine-containing vapour.

There are an estimated 2.5 million e-cigarette users across the UK, and we’ve become used to seeing people “vaping”.

A review of the latest available evidence suggests that while e-cigarettes are not completely risk-free, they are at least 95% less harmful to health than tobacco smoking - a view supported by many including the Royal College of physicians, Cancer research UK and the US National Academy of Sciences.

Evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes have significantly reduced levels of exposure to key toxicants as compared to cigarettes, with average levels of exposure falling well below the thresholds for concern.

E-cigarettes have become the most popular aid to quitting smoking in the UK, and a Royal College of General practitioners position statement suggests that “using their clinical judgement on an individual patient basis, primary care clinicians may wish to promote e-cigarette use as a means to stopping.

Patients choosing to use and e-cigarette in a quit attempt should be advised that seeking behavioural support alongside e-cigarette use increases the chances of quick success further”.

There is no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you. This is in contrast smoking.

Authorities in the USA are investigating a multistate outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury, also known as EVALI. The US outbreak peaked in summer 2019, and at the time of writing the outbreak in the USA seems to be in decline.

It has been suggested that vaping associated lung injury may be related to the use of e-cigarette devices to deliver chemicals, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and cannabinoids, in an aerosol that contains vitamin E, although the exact cause remains unclear.

Of note, THC is illegal in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971). Also, vitamin E, along with other vitamins, is not permitted as an ingredient in notifiable nicotine e-cigarettes or e-liquids in the UK.

There are lots of ways to stop smoking. So take the first step and change your life! See the button below.


  • Gordon T, Fine J. Cornering the Suspects in Vaping-Associated EVALI.N Engl J Med. 2020 Feb 20;382(8):755-756
  • Kalininskiy A et al. E-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI): case series and diagnostic approach.Lancet Respir Med. 2019 Dec;7(12):1017-1026
  • MHRA (28/1/2020). Drug Safety Update volume 13, issue 6: January 2020: 1.
  • McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L, Robson D. Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018: a report commissioned by Public Health England. 2018.
  • RCGP Position Statement on the use of electronic nicotine vapour products (E-Cigarettes) - Updated September 2017.
  • MHRA (28/1/2020). Drug Safety Update volume 13, issue 6: January 2020: 1.
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