Smoking – The Silent Killer

Smoking – The Silent Killer

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–Deborah Thomas

Smoking is a major cause of preventable death in the UK, with 80,000 deaths in England alone in 2009. Exposure to second-hand smoke (passive smoking) has been widely reported to cause fatal deaths especially in children.

The proportion of the population who smoke cigarettes has fallen gradually over the past 40 years, from 46% in 1974 to 19% in 2013. Over this time the proportion of the population who had never smoked cigarettes increased from 37% to 58%. The proportion of smokers who had quit doubled between 1974 and 2013, from 27% to 54%.

–Married people and those with higher level qualification are less likely to be cigarette smokers

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According to government reports in the past decade, cigarette smokers were more likely to have characteristics associated with poverty. The findings from a published ONS report looked at the links between deprivation and smoking.

The proportion that smoked cigarettes was highest amongst those with lower level educational qualifications, unemployed people, those working in routine and manual occupations and those with low incomes.

The proportion that smoked cigarettes was highest in 2013 in northern regions of England, and in Scotland. These are generally the areas that have higher unemployment levels, lower average income and lower levels of educational achievement.

–The emergence of the e-cigarette market

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Over the past 5 years, e-cigarettes have become more widely used in the UK and there have been debates on how much e-cigarettes could renormalise smoking. Some feel they could introduce non-smokers to nicotine defeating the purpose of reducing smoking whilst others feel that they could be a useful tool in the effort to reduce tobacco consumption.

To date, e-cigarettes have mainly been marketed as a healthier and cheaper alternative to smoking. We are yet to establish the long-term effects and as such we should keep pushing for debates.

–Does e-cigarettes reduce smoking?

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From published reports smokers and ex-smokers almost exclusively use e-cigarettes. More than 1 in 10 (12%) cigarette smokers also used e-cigarettes, compared with 1 in 20 (5%) ex-smokers and almost none of those who had never smoked cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are mainly used as smoking cessation aids and for the perceived health benefits (compared with smoking tobacco). Over half of e-cigarette users said that their main reason for using e-cigarettes was to stop smoking, and about one in five said the main reason for their use was because they thought they were less harmful than cigarettes. The real truth about e-cigarettes is yet to be established since we do not have enough data to base conclusive reports.

Perhaps it’s time for smokers to quit once and for all because of all the health issues associated. Regardless of the type of cigarettes chosen, all cigarettes are bad for the health.

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