The harmful effects of cigarettes have been known for a long time. Despite this, a large population in the UK and around the world are chain smokers. Many people start this unhealthy habit at a young age and find it hard to quit later in life. Smoking causes many cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Lung and throat cancer is also quite common among the population that smokes.
Smoking has been a big problem in London and other cities in the UK. In 2012, the percentage of adults who smoked was 20.1%. Trends show that cigarette smoking has been on the decline since then. In 2019, about 13.9% of adults smoked.
Several reasons explain this shift in smoking trends.
In the last year or so, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc throughout the world. Since the virus affects the lungs, many smokers were forced to quit smoking.
WHO reports that smokers may be at a higher risk of contracting the virus than non-smokers. The primary reason for this is that cigarettes come into contact with fingers and lips. Hence, it could put smokers at a higher risk by spreading the virus quickly.
Due to smoking, the lung capacity of a person reduces. Hence, it increases the chances of developing COVID-19 symptoms.
Since smokers are at a higher risk of developing Coronavirus symptoms, a large number of people in the UK quit smoking. According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), around 1 million people quit smoking in 2020 alone.
Also, BBC reports that about 41% of people who quit smoking did that as a direct result of the pandemic.
Despite this, there are concerns that cigarette smoking may be rising among some individuals. Although people have stopped smoking, it hasn’t translated into a reduction in sales. It could be because some smokers are smoking more than before. The change in lifestyle due to the pandemic could explain why people are smoking more than others. Working from home, lack of activities and boredom are a few reasons.
International trade, including the import and export of tobacco products, also took a hit. Likewise, illegal smuggling of tobacco products was also on the down-low. The illegal trade is one of the reasons why cigarette sales have been high. With the pandemic, smuggling couldn’t take effect, which is also a contributing factor to the decrease in cigarette sales.
Plain Packaging Rules
Cigarette sales in the UK have taken a hit since packaging rules for cigarettes were changed. With the introduction of these rules, cigarette sales went down by 20 million.
The article by the Guardian mentions that cigarette sales have been dropping with the introduction of the legislation. However, the UK Government fears that cigarette companies are trying to circumvent these restrictions and use gimmicks to further their sales.
Vapes and e-cigarettes
The article also mentions that cigarette sales have also been dropping because people are switching to vapes and e-cigarettes. Vapes, such as V2 cigs, are considered to be slightly safer than cigarettes. However, ongoing research is not conclusive in this regard. The probable reason that vapes are thought to be safer than cigarettes is that they are less addictive. Smokers can choose the level of nicotine that they want to consume in a vape, which is not possible for a cigarette. In addition to this, smokers can choose various flavours in vapes, making it an attractive option for people, especially teens.
These are some reasons that have impacted the sales of cigarettes in the UK. The reduction in cigarette smoking is a positive step towards the overall health of people in the country. However, it will be some time before we see its effects.
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