The government should focus on tobacco alternatives rather than cigarettes bans, says leading think tank.
In a new report published today, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) urges policymakers to focus on boosting vapes and e-cigarettes rather than looking towards bans, which has been the preferred strategy in countries such as New Zealand.
Recent data found that there are now five times as many vapers in the UK than there were in 2012, as the e-cigarette revolution takes off.
In Britain, where 9.3 per cent of adults now vape, the smoking rate has dropped from 20 per cent to 14 per cent since 2012.
The IEA argue that so long as demand exists (only 53 per cent of British smokers say they want to quit), neo-prohibitionist policies will result in endemic black market activity, crime and secondary poverty without coming close to eradicating smoking.
IEA’s Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon, who authored the Alternative Smoke-Free 2030 Plan, said the barriers to consumers should be removed, allowing for greater access to low risk nicotine alternatives.
He also said more should be done to stamp out the misinformation surrounding the risks of e-cigarettes.
Currently, 40 per cent of English smokers falsely believe that nicotine causes cancer and the number of smokers who wrongly think that vaping is as or more dangerous than smoking rose from 36 per cent to 53 per cent between 2014 and 2020.
This is despite the fact that the Royal College of Physicians concluded that the long-term risks are ‘unlikely to exceed five per cent of the harm from smoking tobacco’ (RCP 2019).
“All the government needs to do is create a regulatory environment in which they can flourish and ensure that smokers are not misled by fake news. There are a dozen simple, low cost reforms that could be implemented that would help the government meet its health objectives without persecuting smokers,” Snowdon explained.
There will be a parliamentary debate on the independent review of smokefree 2030 policies tomorrow.