Cigarette addiction is a beast of a thing. Just about anyone who has ever picked up a cigarette, gotten past that first cough and throat burn, and continued on knows what I’m talking about. Looking back, as a teenager who first took a drag off a traditional tobacco cigarette, it is amazing that I went back for more. It was disgusting, even revolting, but all my friends were doing it. Same old story, right? That is a big part of what has kept smoking rates so high, even with the terrible effects of tobacco being so widely known. The one thing I am thankful for is to live in an age of smoking alternatives that can actually make a difference.
In fact, I think about what it would have been like to pick up a tobacco cigarette in the 20s, the 30s, or the 40s. Really, anywhere up through the 70s when the impact of cigarette addiction just started coming into our nation’s consciousness. Back then smoking alternatives were non-existent; because 4 out of 5 doctors recommended one brand of tobacco cigarettes over another, remember? Those were kooky days if we think about it now, and smoking rates were simply through the roof.
Then came the movement to make Americans aware that they were essentially killing themselves by smoking. This valiant battle has been a difficult one and has been waged across decades. Inch by inch, organizations large and small fought Big Tobacco and its enormous influence on our youth as well as adults. They had, and still do have, a ridiculous amount of capital to convince smokers that there weren’t any real smoking alternatives. Just pick a brand that was “better” for you, such as a “light” cigarette. We really turned the corner in the fight against smoking in the late 90s and early 00s, but it wasn’t enough.
There were still millions of smokers who couldn’t quit. Plenty of them wanted to, but they hadn’t been able to extricate themselves from the clutches of cigarette addiction. Smoking rates hit a plateau and weren’t falling any further. Then came the electronic cigarette and this little device has been every bit of the game changing force that smokers have dreamed of. Smoking rates finally started to come down again in a statistically significant way.
Cigarette Addiction Trumped By Ecigs
The latest numbers show that as cigarette addiction trends are on the way down, ecig trends are on the way up. Cigarette smoking has come down from 20.5% of the population to 18.8% when comparing 2013 to 2014.
Those numbers are for men, with women declining slightly less at 15.3% in 2013 to 14.9% in 2014. All of those statistics are for smokers aged 18 and up.
Even better, in that critical 18 to 24 age range we see an even sharper decline. Men were down from 21.9% to 18.5% when comparing 2013 to 2014, and women were down 15.4% to 14.9% over the same years.
Obviously this is absolutely wonderful news for all of us interested in bringing down smoking rates to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately, not all those who despise traditional tobacco cigarettes will see this the same, namely the ecigs trending upward aspect. We’ve heard this complaint year in and year out now, and it goes like this: electronic cigarettes will simply normalize smoking and re-introduce it to those who would not have smoked. Thankfully, this study goes a ways to disprove that as well.
If you take a look at the graph, you will notice that the lowered smoking rates don’t include ecig only usage, but does include those who use both. What does this mean? Well, we know that these rates have been stagnant and had seemed to hit a “floor” of sorts before vaping entered the picture. This seems to show us how vapor cigarettes bulldozed through that floor.
Take for example the overall smoking rates for men 18 and up. In 2013 20.5% of men were smoking, as we mentioned earlier. If you take the total of people in 2014 who either smoked only, smoked and vaped, or only vaped, you get a figure of 20.2% among men. That means that overall people who were able to find other smoking alternatives or go cold turkey only numbered .3% of smokers. That’s consistent with the floor that we have seen in recent years, as the remaining smokers are finding it incredibly difficult to make that change.
Yet within that overall 20.2%, a full 1.4% have been able to make the switch completely to electronic cigarettes. Ecigarettes have their own set of advantages over traditional tobacco cigarettes and that means almost 7% of smokers were able to change their lifestyle between 2013 and 2014 and enjoy said advantages.
But there is more. Another 2.8% are listed as saying they both smoke and vape. This is common among new users who making the transition, especially those who may not have found what is the best ecig for them yet, but are trying. The fact that they have reduced their consumption of traditional tobacco cigarettes is great it in its own right and there is hope they will be able to kick them completely too.
What we are left with is that only 16% of men over 18 were surveyed as being smokers that didn’t vape to reduce their exposure to tobacco smoke. That’s a big drop from 20.5% in 2013 and the reason for that drop is quite obviously related to ecigs and their upward trend. This is a huge revelation for the electronic cigarette industry. It is something all of us knew somewhere in our gut, but only time and data can bear that out. And it has.
Smoking Alternatives Are The Key
Essentially, this answers those critics that say vaping is just reeling in a new batch of smokers who would have never tried it to begin with. Clearly this is not the case.
What electronic cigarettes allow for is smoking alternatives for smokers, current and future ones. They give people who already smoke or were likely to try them (remember the cool factor? It isn’t gone completely, even if it is on its way out) a legitimate option. This needs to be applauded and held up to show what vaping is all about. Yet we all know this won’t be the case.
Those opposing the electronic cigarette movement will find a way to turn this around and insist that vaping is contributing to addiction. That ecigs aren’t helping at all. That ecigs are the downfall of humanity. Words and accusations get thrown around really easily when some are trying to make a point, even if they are wrong.
While we can’t always convince people of what we know, we do take solace in the fact that millions of smokers who weren’t able to stop are finding they can make the switch. So many of them didn’t think it could ever happen to them, but their personal testimonies and reviews on our site and others show that they can do it. These numbers only serve to back up how many Americans are really being affected, that the stories we hear are just a drop in the bucket. That positive affect is why we do what we do, and this is just another reminder that we are indeed making that impact!