Can Vaping Save Public Healthcare Systems?
Worldwide the leading preventable cause of death remains tobacco usage, despite the fact it’s been more than 70 years since the first studies emerged proving how damaging smoking is to human health. To be precise globally it is extensively known that one in two smokers will be killed by a smoking related illness, however what is far less well known is the direct and indirect costs to society. A Canadian studied totalled that for the 45,500 smoking related deaths in Canada across 2012, came to an eye watering £9.53 billion annually for healthcare, fire damage and enforcement costs. However as we are now living in a Covid induced recession which is likely to trigger severe austerity measures from governments across the globe, it’s the estimated £3.82 billion annual public healthcare bill where we’ll be specifically focusing on here when asking can vaping save public healthcare?
The Coronavirus outbreak has placed further huge stress on already fragile public healthcare systems pushing them to breaking point in certain cases, so it is of paramount importance we look for ways to ease pressure and tackling smoking related deaths presents by far the greatest opportunity for this. The potential cannot be underestimated as in the UK alone, Action on Smoking and Health have found that the amount of vapers has increased from 700,00 in 2012 to 3.6 million by 2019, with a whopping 54% of these completely ditching cigarettes. Furthermore the New England Journal of Medicine reports vaping to have success rates almost double that of any other Nicotine Replacement Therapy. This is critical in preventing healthcare systems from being overwhelmed as highlighted by the study ‘Potential Deaths averted in the USA by replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes’ (2017). The following statistics from this report simply cannot be ignored as nations seek to recover the extreme cost and damage Covid has done their economies, “replacement of a cigarette by an e-cigarette over a 10-year period yields 6.6 million fewer premature death … in the optimistic scenario, meanwhile under the pessimistic scenario 1.6 million premature deaths are averted”.
This study then goes on to demonstrate that if every present smoker of a population switched to vaping, premature deaths would be reduced by up between 25.3% in the most optimistic scenario to 6.1% in the most pessimistic scenario, when you consider the millions of smokers globally this all adds up to a huge saving from not having to treat smoking related illnesses, especially when considering this evidence against other less successful nicotine replacement therapies available. In the UK where in 2018 there were 7.2 million smokers the results of better encouraging a transition to vaping to help save healthcare really speaks for itself:
- With a 54% effectiveness rate this can be expected to convert just short of 3.9 million into vapers who completely stopped smoking cigarettes altogether, whilst based on the 6.1% to 25.3% range laid out above, results in 234,000 to 986,700 fewer premature deaths.
When considering that this is almost twice as many deaths prevented than any other Nicotine replacement therapy would have been able to achieve, and on top of this other smoking related illnesses that cost healthcare systems resources but don’t necessarily cause outright death is also reduced even further. By these findings as well the at least 3.6 million current UK vapers, has already contributed to saving between 216,000 to 910,800 lives. Although the average direct cost to the NHS per smoker is unfortunately unknown, reducing premature deaths by another 234,000 to 986,700 would almost certainly save billions in direct and indirect healthcare costs annually.
Therefore the vaping industry needs to galvanise and work together to stem the falsified disparaging image it gets given by mainstream tabloid media, that’s severely constraining it’s potential as the rates of smokers switching to vaping begins to slow inevitably placing more pressure on public healthcare systems. This narrative causes people to ignore the real facts which haven’t been unfounded, vaping is a whopping 95% safer than smoking cigarettes. However as it’s becoming clear that the fear instilled by fake news media outlets is becoming detrimental to the greater good for society, we must now call upon other key players to reverse this trend.
It’s time for the medical community and regulators to really put their money where their mouth is on saving lives from smoking, and wholeheartedly endorse vaping as the best tool available in this fight and stem the falsified media portrayal. We are also calling upon these media outlets to recognise the damage they are causing to public healthcare systems as well as wider society and to display some social responsibility, as without their backing as well progress will continue to be limited. The fact remains in the UK there has yet to be a single death with vaping recorded as the cause on the death certificate, whilst smoking continues to be recognised as causing over 200 deaths every single day.