Rise in Non-Cigarette Tobacco Use Sparks Cancer Warning

New research reveals a fivefold increase in non-cigarette tobacco usage in the UK, prompting cancer warnings and calls for comprehensive smoking cessation measures. Here’s the full story.

Dangerous Pleasures

It is a sad fact of life that any of the things that make life just a little more bearable are, without question, terribly bad for you. Alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems, along with a host of cancers. 

Fatty foods or an excess of sugar, found in almost every single one of the UK’s favourite takeaways, can lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. However, the one that rises like a colossus above them all, the undisputed champion of killing you for the short burst of pleasure it gives, is tobacco. 

Doctor’s Nightmare

Cigarettes are so lethal there is almost no chance that they would be legalized if tobacco were somehow discovered today. Just a short list of the health effects of cigarettes reads like a doctor’s worst nightmare: They cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 

Smoking also increases the risk of tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis and almost every possible cancer you can imagine. There’s no doubt about it; cigarettes and tobacco, more specifically, are harmful to you and those around you. 

Shisha and Cigars

Despite this, in recent years, the UK has witnessed a surge in the consumption of non-cigarette tobacco products, including pipes, shisha, and cigars. 

This alarming trend has raised serious concerns among experts about the likely increase in smoking-related cancers and other diseases that will accompany this upward swing in smoking. 

According to a study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, the number of exclusive non-cigarette tobacco users in the UK has skyrocketed fivefold over the past decade. 

Disturbing Escalation

Researchers from University College London (UCL) conducted surveys among approximately 1,700 adults monthly between 2013 and 2023, revealing a marked escalation in the prevalence of non-cigarette tobacco usage.

The study highlights that the most significant spike in non-cigarette tobacco use occurred among young adults. Data indicated that 3% of 18-year-olds were utilizing these alternative forms of tobacco, compared to only 1.1% among 65-year-olds. Young men, and particularly young men and women who are vapers, saw a noticeable uptick. 

Non-cigarette forms of smoking, including cigars, shisha, cigarillos, and pipes, pose substantial health risks and can actually be considerably worse for you than traditional cigarettes. 

Terrifying Figures

The figures are terrifying. According to the British Heart Foundation, anyone who smokes a shisha for as little as 20 minutes to just over an hour may inhale smoke equivalent to over 100 cigarettes. There is no one single factor to blame for the alarming rise in non-cigarette tobacco usage. 

There has been a concerted effort from tobacco companies, and the manufacturers of vapes in particular, to suggest that these forms of smoking are somehow less harmful than cigarettes despite there being no evidence to support this. 

The data also shows that the ban on menthol cigarettes in 2020 did not affect non-cigarette forms of smoking, driving menthol fans to switch to other unrestricted options. 

Tobacco Is Deadly

Tobacco  is linked to over 54,000 cancer cases annually in the UK. The executive director of policy at Cancer Research UK, Dr Ian Walker, stated, “Tobacco kills one person every five minutes in the UK. Research like this shows that the issue of smoking isn’t just about cigarettes – all tobacco products are harmful and cause cancer, no matter what form they come in.”

Tobacco is so harmful that the government is contemplating introducing legislative measures aimed at curbing smoking, particularly among younger generations. 

The proposed legislation would progressively increase the legal smoking age in England, ensuring that individuals born on or after January 1, 2009, would be barred from purchasing cigarettes throughout their lifetimes.

“A Concerning Picture”

The lead author of the UCL study, Dr. Sarah Jackson, stated, “This 10-year-long study captures the shift in trends of non-cigarette tobacco use and paints a concerning picture. Although rates of cigarette smoking have fallen, our data show there has been a sharp rise in use of other smoked tobacco products, particularly among young people.”

She continued: “It’s vital that smoking cessation services are adequately funded and available across the UK so that the around 772,800 people who use non-cigarette tobacco products, and the millions who use cigarettes, are given the support they need to quit.”

The surge in non-cigarette tobacco use poses a significant public health risk, with severe implications for a plethora of cancer risks. For those who do smoke, vape, or use other types of tobacco products, it may finally be time to stub it out. 

The post Rise in Non-Cigarette Tobacco Use Sparks Cancer Warning first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / DedMityay.

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