Countries Race to Stub Out Smoking for Good

With cigarette smoking the leading cause of preventable deaths around the world, it’s not surprising that governments everywhere are doing everything they can to try and get people to kick the deadly habit. Increasingly, that’s being achieved by promoting vaping as an alternative. People still get the nicotine buzz they crave, but without the dozens of carcinogenic materials found in burning tobacco.

In case anyone is any doubt as to the harm cigarettes cause, here are the facts, courtesy of the World Health Organization. Half of the people smoking today will die, making a grim total of 7 million tobacco-related deaths around the world each year. Equally shocking, second-hand smokers account for close to 1 million of that global death toll from this addictive pastime that’s increasingly being frowned upon (US deaths from tobacco are at least 480,000 per year).

New Zealand is among a growing number of countries that have declared their intention to try and go entirely smoke-free in the coming years. The country’s politicians recognize that not everyone is going to quit cigarettes, so they’ve set a goal that by 2025, less than 5% of the population of almost 4.7 million people will not be smoking. They plans to do this by shielding children from cigarette ads and promotions, reducing tobacco supplies and providing support for those who want to stop smoking.

A Right Royal Effort

Other nations, including the UK, are following suit and seeking ways to get people off tobacco. Doctors at the Royal Society of Medicine — one of Britain’s most prestigious medical institutions and one that dates back to 1805 and includes such legendary luminaries as Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur and Sigmund Freud as honorary fellows — are to meet later this month in London to discuss the issue.

“The purpose of this meeting is to explore the strategies that will enable the countries of the United Kingdom to become tobacco-free,” the Society said of the event, titled Winning the End-Game Against Tobacco. “It will look at the opportunities that arise from legislation, health education, treatments supporting smoking cessation and the contribution of advocacy.”

Already in the UK, several leading bodies have conducted in-depth research into vaping as a way to get people off cigarettes, and they have given the increasingly popular e-cigarette the thumbs-up.

The equally prestigious Royal College of Physicians has published a report on vaping and concluded that “e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health”, calling on them to be widely promoted. “Smokers can therefore be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking,” it said.

In the same vein, one of the UK’s top cancer charities, Cancer Research UK, conducted a long-term study into vaping and found that e-cigarettes were “safer than smoking. Cancer Research UK-funded scientists found that people who swapped smoking regular cigarettes for e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy for at least six months had much lower levels of toxic and cancer-causing substances in their body than people who continued to use conventional cigarettes,” the organization said.

Nixing Nicotine

Here in the United States — where people can easily get e-cigarettes from a good vape shop — while there’s no such plan currently in the works, the Food and Drug Administration is moving ahead with a proposal to lower the nicotine content of cigarettes to “non-addictive levels.” This, it is believed, may turn out to be a boost for the vaping industry, as more people turn to e-cigarettes, whose e-liquid refills contain differing levels of nicotine, to get their desired hit.

“The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes — the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use. Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts — and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground.”

And even the government’s own advice on vaping is coming under fire. Last year, the Surgeon General said that vaping among young people was becoming a major public concern — but a re-analysis of the data used for the assertion proved that the conclusions may have been wrong.

New research into the Surgeon General’s warning about vaping found it “does not appear to be supported by the best available evidence on the health risks of nicotine use and population survey data on prevalence of frequent e-cigarette use.” It added that “The next US Surgeon General should consider the possibility that future generations of young Americans will be less likely to start smoking tobacco because of, not in spite of, the availability of e-cigarettes.”

SIM-Only Mobile Deals: The Wave of the Future?

It appears as if mobile phone providers are churning out contracts on a daily basis. From all-inclusive packages which can offer unlimited Internet access to bundles associated with 4G data transmission speeds, the customer has more options to choose from than ever before. However, many are looking to free themselves from the financial bonds often associated with contractual deals. This is why some believe that SIM-only plans are the next big thing to hit the smartphone market. Let’s take a look at why these deals are attractive as well as some of the benefits that they have in store.

The Issue of “Seemingly” Unlimited Data

In the past, the majority of carriers would offer plans that provided unlimited access to streaming data. However, these plans were generally limited by the capabilities of the phones themselves. Packages providing 20 or 50 gigabytes per month would have been sufficient for most needs. Therefore, the consumer could rest assured that he or she would rarely (if ever) exceed these volumes. This has all changed due to modern technology.

High-speed connections and a burgeoning number of data-hungry apps means that contractual limitations will quickly be exceeded. This is the first main advantage of SIM-only deals. Consumers can choose from a number of different schemes; each of these based around predicted data usage during a given time period. Some deals even offer as much as 25 gigabytes for a single fee. Furthermore, there is no long-term commitment.

Factoring in the Cost of the Phone

There is no doubt that the major providers offer a host of interesting and flexible deals. On the surface, these can appear to be great ways to save a tidy sum of money each month. Unfortunately, there is a drawback to these options. The user will normally have to factor in the cost of the phone. This can be particularly substantial when referring to popular models such as the Samsung Galaxy or the new generation of the iPhone. In other words, the price of the phone will be added into monthly tariffs. SIM-only plans will not be subject to this added fee. Therefore, the consumer always knows exactly what he or she is paying for. There are no surprises and minutes can be topped up whenever required.

The Notion of Commitment

The mobile phone industry is highly competitive and each company hopes to retain their customers for as long as possible. Thus, many plans are often associated with contracts of up to two years. This presents an issue for those who want to switch deals down the line. They are normally subject to very high cancellation fees. SIM-only deals provide a sense of freedom that would not otherwise be possible. If the user suddenly spots an attractive phone model, there is no need to break any type of contract. The SIM card will simply be transferred to this new unit.

Network Amenities

It should finally be noted that most SIM-only deals come with a variety of network perks included. Data speeds of up to 4G, mobile tethering and public access are a few common examples of what customers can expect to enjoy. So, the myth of the “bare-bones” SIM package is no longer relevant.

SIM-only mobile phone plans are here to stay. As consumers become more aware of their benefits, we will likely see a shift towards these options in the coming years. Although standard contracts will not disappear, the providers themselves will have to offer even more options in order to keep ahead of this economically savvy revolution.