A new study predicts that, with electronic cigarettes available as alternatives to traditional tobacco cigarettes, by 2050, 32 percent of smokers in the UK who otherwise would have continued smoking would have completely switched to vaping, according to a British American Tobacco press note.
‘Our results show an overall beneficial effect of e-cigarettes on a population, reducing smoking prevalence and smoking-related deaths,’ said Dr. James Murphy, head of reduced risk substantiation at BAT.
The results, which are published today in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.03.012), support the results of a study in 2016 by the Cochrane Review, which concluded that electronic cigarettes can help people stop smoking.
Scientists at BAT have developed a predictive model looking at a number of possible scenarios over a 50-year period between 2000 and 2050: There is a baseline scenario in which electronic cigarettes are not on the market and a counterfactual scenario, a predicted situation, based on the current trends in which both traditional tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes are available to consumers.
“This modelling approach is an informative way of assessing population health effects when epidemiological data are not available,” says Murphy.
‘This model takes account of the way consumers use products and utilises the past to predict what might happen in the future,’ the press note said. ‘In 2000, smoking prevalence was 27 percent, and by 2010 it was 20.3 percent. This model predicts that when e-cigarettes are not available, this would fall to 12.4 percent of the overall population [by 2050]. This number falls to 9.7 percent (including dual users) when e-cigarettes are available. And the proportion of all deaths due to smoking-related diseases falls from 8.4 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.’
The model is said to take into account all types of consumers, including current smokers, non-smokers, former smokers, electronic cigarette users, and dual users. ‘Behaviours, like starting, switching, becoming a dual user, and quitting are represented through a feedback system, as is the potential effect of smoking normalisation on starting and cessation rates,’ the note said. ‘Factors such as consumer age, gender, and aging are factored in, while time since quitting or relapsing is also considered.
‘Population benefits were seen even though the model is considered conservative: for instance, it ascribes no lowering of risk to consumers using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, even though dual users are likely to smoke fewer tobacco cigarettes than they otherwise would; and it assumes that any potential health benefit from quitting cigarettes was lost on relapsing.
‘Future models may also study the use of additional products, such as tobacco-heating products and snus; characterise the UK population by ethnicity, social economic status, and education level; and factor in affordability, smoking bans, health campaigns/risk perception or packaging regulations, say the researchers.’