Has tobacco finally met its match?

tobacco lighter

Well, trending figures would suggest not really – not yet anyway. Demand for tobacco is still high, despite recent legislation in many countries to ban smoking in public places. It seems they are trying to ostracise those who smoke by pushing them outside on to cold rainy doorsteps.

Recent studies show that in some parts of the world smoking tobacco is becoming less popular. If you look at global statistics the number of tobacco smokers is actually rising.

Tobacco vs Electronic smoking

Online sales of e-cigs are flourishing. New specialist high street vaporizing shops are opening. As well as existing tobacco retailers selling electronic paraphernalia alongside tobacco products.

Research conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that between 1990 and 2010 the price of a packet of cigarettes in the UK more than doubled from around £2.80 to £6.  Therefore e-cigs not only offer the possibility of a healthier alternative to puffing on tobacco, but also present a less costly way of obtaining nicotine – the only listed addictive component of cigarettes.

E-cig users are on the rise in many countries; sales in the UK increased by 340% in 2013. The industry is expected to be worth £340 million per annum by 2015. At present ‘old school’ cigarette smokers are still by far the majority of the smoking population,  though it is predicted that e-cigarette revenue will overtake tobacco within the next decade.

It is estimated that around 42.1 million Americans over the age of 18, around 20% of the adult population, smoke on a regular basis. The percentage of male smokers is slightly higher than female smokers. In Europe the figures are similar but with a higher total percentage of smokers at around 29% of the adult population regularly smoking tobacco products.

The number of of people with a nicotine addiction has dropped quite rapidly in the last few years. Addiction is down around 7% in Europe since 2005. Still it’s not far off 1 in 3 of us that smoke.

So why should we quit smoking tobacco?

We have been warned for quite some time of the adverse health effects that tobacco addiction causes. Lung disease, heart disease, bad breath and stained teeth to name a few. The social implications are causing smokers to be evermore ostracised and cast out from a new healthier less nicotine-dependant society. One that is adopting a more intolerant view towards smokers in an attempt to change peoples habits; this pressure is working to an extent with smoking numbers declining and less new smokers starting up.

Non-smokers are adopting a hard lined defense towards electronic smokers. This despite the fact that electronic smoking poses a very low health risk if passively inhaled. The FDA is proposing a complete ban on e-smoking in public places. Even though research shows the effect to a person’s health is improved compared to smoking tobacco.

The health impact and anti-social aspect of smoking has always been the main spearhead in non-smoking advertisements. So if electronic smoking offers a “healthier” almost odourless alternative what is the problem?

Conclusion

The tobacco industry’s roots lie way back in 1492 after Columbus arrived home from the Americas. Tobacco is now being reinvented with innovative technology. Although maintaining the same morals, driven by money and greed. E-smoking devices are new products in an almost virgin market. Corporations are trying to get as many addicted to a new brand of nicotine double time. This form can be flavored, advertised on TV and endorsed by celebrities. In a free market it’s open to entrepreneurs all aiming to make as much money as possible. It’s hard to say if this new technology has taken us backwards or forwards in terms of ethical thinking. Backwards or forwards in terms of health. Long-term data will have to be analysed in due course and only time will tell.