As We’ve Been Saying, We Should Subsidise Vaping


The big question about vaping from a public health perspective is whether it reduces health problems or increases them? The more basic civil liberty point, that people should be able to ingest as they please, is true but already rather lost unfortunately.

So, is vaping a substitute for smoking? People vape instead of smoking that is? Or is it a complement to smoking. People do both, doing the one increasing the rate or likelihood of the other? If it’s the first then there’s an argument to be subsidising vaping, not banning it. If the second, well, the civil liberty one has already been lost, hasn’t it?

So, interesting new research:

E-cigarettes do not normalise smoking for young people – study
Tobacco use among children and teens continues to fall despite popularity of vaping

OK, a substitute, not a complement then:

The sharp increase in the use of e-cigarettes has not led more British children to take up cigarettes or regard smoking as normal, the first study of its kind has shown. Some health experts and anti-smoking groups have expressed concern that the growth of e-cigarettes might normalise the idea of smoking for young people. But the study led by Cardiff University researchers suggests the number of teenagers who said they had tried smoking or thought it was acceptable to smoke has continued to fall despite the rise in e-cigarette use. The study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, examined data from England, Wales and Scotland, and found that from 1998 to 2015 the percentage of children aged between 13 and 15 who had smoked decreased from 60% to 19%, while regular smokers in the same age group fell from 19% to 5%.

As we’ve said before:

Well, if you believe the usual stuff from PHE about the costs of smoking to the NHS perhaps we should subsidize it? Smoking costs the NHS £y – therefore, if vaping reduces harm then perhaps we should subsidise it? The subsidy being £x, the costs to the NHS of £y being higher than the costs £z, smoking costs with vaping, even after we add £z and £ x to give the total costs of the vaping subsidy and the NHS costs of smoking with vaping?

That’s the science of it all. And we do in fact craft public policy on the basis of the science, don’t we?

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Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole

we do in fact craft public policy on the basis of the science, don’t we?

Only if The Science Is Settled©. More policy-led evidence required, I think.

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey

I don’t think PHE have got the science right. I’ve read that tobacco smokers save the public purse a large wedge by paying a lot of taxes and then removing themselves from the population in their 60s.
So if the benefit to others of fewer smokers is negative then which way should the argument for a subsidy to vapers run.
While I’m drunk and feeling perverse – isn’t the duty free nature of aviation fuel and the VAT exemption on food stupid? So isn’t it doubly disgusting that we have air freighted green beans from Kenya being purchased by customers at Waitrose.