Matthew Peters and Simon Chapman

Over the past few years, a conga line of English tobacco control academics and e-cigarette barrow-pushers has been in Australia and contributed to parliamentary inquiries in the hope of convincing we ignorant colonials how critical e-cigarettes have been to tobacco control in the Old Blighty. Dummy spits have been rife when their gospel advice has been ignored.  Colonial insolence has been decried when heretics pointed out that smoking affordability was rather more closely related to prevalence trends than was e-cigarette use.

So enter stage left a certain virus. Since March 2020 when COVID began its devastation, the number of English smokers who have tried to quit has increased sharply as has the proportion of those attempts that is successful (see purple line below). So how did they do it? Not in the main by vaping. The proportion of English smokers using e-cigarettes while trying to quit has continued a steady decline that began in late 2016, with a few temporary peaks around promotional events such as Stoptober.

In early 2016, English smokers trying to quit did it unassisted (cold turkey)  in roughly the same proportion as those using e-cigs. Today, the rate of unassisted cessation is more than double that of EC use, all against a background of wall-to-wall high street vaping shops, an almost cult-like veneration of e-cigs by the English tobacco control establishment, long term demonisation of cold turkey (see illustrations below) and massive advertising and promotional campaigns by vaping manufacturers.

Their brethren in Australia valiantly continue to chant the English gospel but the annoying data just won’t go away.

Data source: extracted from Smoking in England reports