Stop smoking programs are increasingly becoming outdated or irrelevant. This is a process that is happening extremely quickly relative to how long it took to build up these programs. Even before the most conventional stop smoking aids hit the market, anti-smoking advocates began pushing for thoroughly organized programs to help smokers who were trying to quit. They developed help groups, tools such as the quit smoking timeline, and information distribution through flyers, TV ads, and later the internet. All of this with the aim of creating a situation where smoking rates would fall drastically, and in turn save millions of lives.
Well, smoking rates did fall and certainly plenty of smokers took to stop smoking programs over the years. But we are in a new age, one ushered in by a singular invention that has simply changed the world for smokers. That would be, of course, the electronic cigarette. The ecigarette has in a span of under a decade made more of influence on smokers than several decades of scare tactics and anti-smoking campaigns. It has gone far beyond the stop smoking aids that did become popular for a time, like the patch or nicotine gum. It has done all of this by simply taking its message to smokers and providing them with a new alternative to smoking.
Now there is an options for smokers that isn’t as black and white as quit or fail. It used to be that way for many of us. Either find a way to quit, or fail and go back to smoking tobacco cigarettes. Some would try stopping cold turkey, while others tried to taper down their usage over time and hoped to grind it to a halt. When that didn’t work, the most dedicated smokers who were looking to stop the deadly habit would indeed turn to quit smoking programs. Some made use of stop smoking aids, while others didn’t. Now with vapor cigarettes, there is a legitimate option to make a switch instead of trying to climb that big quit smoking mountain that most never actually reach the peak of.
Even as this technology is still so new and data is still coming in as to its true effect on the smoking public, we are seeing more and more signs of that impact. In a roundabout way, one sign of its success is actually the loss of steam that these stop smoking programs are experiencing. It doesn’t mean people have stopped trying to get away from traditional tobacco cigarettes, it just means a lot of people are finding their recourse in electronic cigarettes. That quit smoking timeline essentially has to be rewritten to include a new variable that is simply shaking up how we think about smoking AND the process of stopping.
Stop Smoking Programs Losing Popularity
The latest data comes to us from across the pond in Scotland, where mammoth change is underway. Their Information Services Division reported that in 2013 they saw a 13% drop in the attempts to stop smoking compared to the previous year. This would be the first year over year decrease seen in years, and part of the explanation is falling on the impact of ecigarettes.
Perhaps the definition of the attempt to stop smoking needs to be changed itself to account for the new variety of options that smokers have because of vapor technologies. Because it appears to be outdated from this viewpoint.
For officials who have spent years, sometimes decades, and millions of dollars in building up stop smoking programs to help the public, this is perplexing to say the least and devastating to those who view it through a particular paradigm. The idea is to get people to stop smoking and the longstanding view has been that we should do anything to get them off tobacco – and nicotine too. That second part is just as important, because it tends to color the way some anti-smoking advocates look at electronic cigarettes.
By this we mean to say that so many people have been groomed to associate nicotine with tobacco or smoking, that they think the two are essentially the same. This creates the impression that nicotine has the same negative risks as smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, which has not been found to be the case. In fact, many a study has shown the positive attributes of nicotine and thus use of it in an ecigarette shouldn’t really ring any alarm bells.
Unfortunately, for some people it does. This makes even less sense when we look at all the stop smoking aids which, you guessed it, all have nicotine as well. There isn’t a doubt that nicotine can play a positive role in helping smokers get off of cigarettes, but this isn’t how you hear things described with ecigs. That is how you hear statements like the ones from Public Health Consultant Dr. Andrew Carnon. He was quoted saying “It is not just about the nicotine replacement, it is not just about use of e-cigarettes, it is actually about working with somebody to help you through the difficult process – because it’s not easy to quit smoking.”
Ecigarettes Can Play Helpful Role
We can’t disagree with Dr. Carnon about how hard it is to quit smoking, but he seems to be downplaying the role ecigarettes can have in creating that type of environment.
He is also a big backer of the traditional stop smoking programs, which seem to be taking a backseat to folks simply making the switch to vapor.
It’s like these anti-smoking officials are content chugging along and trying to bring down smoking rates, even as those numbers hit a floor that wasn’t really going any lower. An old minivan in the carpool lane that is methodically trying to get to the destination.
Instead, here are electronic cigarettes and they are zooming past them, showing smokers a new path that they could follow. “The position of e-cigarettes is at the moment not fully clear because they are so new there hasn’t been all the research carried out,” is what Dr. Carnon also said. “We actually don’t know at this stage just how effective they are in helping people to stop smoking.” Actually, we do have a pretty good idea, contrary to what many would be willing to admit.
What we have here is a case of a type of product or service that is becoming a dinosaur and nobody likes becoming one of those. But this doesn’t have to be the case! Stop smoking programs could very well integrate new technologies into what they are doing and see the advent of vapor cigarettes as a boon for them. They could do this, but most of these officials are hung up on the negative talk that is out there.
At some point that will wear down and they will end up seeing that ecigs causing their programs to take a backseat is a GOOD thing because of the quick work they are doing for smokers. Once they come to terms with that, these programs can end up being even beefier and more effective than ever before. Nobody would be happier than us to see that happen.