27.8 percent of the German population still regularly smoke cigarettes.

According to the latest figures from the Federal Ministry of Health, the figure is still 6.6 percent among young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

Many want to stop doing it.

Three out of four smokers allegedly want to get rid of the glowing stalk.

Between 2012 and 2020, the official number of smokers trying to quit in the EU rose by 6 percent.

During this period, according to the European Commission, the consumption of nicotine replacement products has decreased and that of e-cigarettes has increased.

How are these last numbers to be interpreted?

"E-cigarettes are not a good alternative for two reasons, they are harmful to health and they promote addiction," said Wulf Pankow, chief physician of pulmonology at Vivantes Neukölln Clinic in Berlin, on the occasion of the current congress of the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine. An example: There are two harmless substances in the e-cigarette liquid, the liquid: glycerine and propylene glycol. If these are heated to temperatures, as found in e-cigarettes, they can turn into harmful substances that promote inflammation, can be carcinogenic and can also damage the cardiovascular system.

E-cigarettes, on the other hand, are often said to be less harmful than tobacco products. However, there is still a lack of meaningful long-term studies. The addictive nicotine is also found in most e-cigarettes. Finally, the flavors in the liquid: They too increase the dependency on e-cigarettes. Today you can find up to 7500 different flavors on the market. Above all, they tempt the young population to start “vaping”.

According to the European Commission, most adults start with e-cigarettes because they want to draw a line under the heading of smoking. For young people, however, e-cigarettes are often not a means of quitting, they have completely different reasons: They want to buy this slim-line object. For them it is discreet smoking, not an unpleasant smell, on the contrary - a sweet aroma - so you are less likely to disturb your neighbors at the bus stop. Most of all, curiosity is the main reason for teenagers and young adults to start using electronic smoking. Often they start because the novelty of the product attracts them and they want to test the different flavors, which then leads them from curiosity to addiction.

This is not without consequences for health. Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles have published an Internet survey of around three thousand teenagers and young adults aged 14 to 21 years old. They had to provide personal information and what they were consuming: e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cannabis or nothing like that. The question was what symptoms these young people had experienced in the past 30 days. The two most common responses among e-cigarette users that differentiated them from non-smokers were symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. According to researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, up to 60 percent more people suffer from e-cigarette smokers at a high level of stress.In addition to an e-cigarette, many young people now and then also smoke cigarettes or cannabis, which on the one hand can distort the results, but on the other hand is known to be particularly harmful in combination.

Lung specialist Pankow complains in particular about the frequent double consumption of e-cigarettes and tobacco products. 85 percent of vapers also smoke cigarettes on the side. Studies have also shown that ex-cigarette smokers are tempted to return to tobacco consumption by e-cigarettes. Regarding the attempts to quit, Pankow said: "Nowadays there are good programs to quit smoking, because professional help works." Setting a date, on the other hand, works rather poorly. Addiction and behavioral therapies, drugs such as nicotine patches and chewing gum are alternatives that are always more successful than e-cigarettes. However, there is a lack of therapists, and the medical nicotine replacement products are still not reimbursed by the statutory health insurance companies.  

The tobacco companies, on the other hand, see themselves on the winning side, they have now appropriated a large part of the e-cigarette market. Advertising for the e-cigarette products and the eye-catcher that is made by the conspicuous packaging labeling are not yet covered by the tobacco advertising ban. The criticism is getting louder and louder. Various initiatives such as the EHN (European Heart Network) are now trying to push for a ban on addictive flavors.

When it comes to smoking, Germany is one of the “problem children” of

the World Health Organization (WHO). That said the WHO director for health promotion, Rüdiger Krech, the German press agency. In all other EU countries more is being done to get people to quit. “Germany brings up the rear in the EU when it comes to measures to curb smoking.” The Federal Republic is therefore one of the 29 countries in which the WHO is launching a campaign on World No Tobacco Day on May 31, including on social media, to encourage more people to quit move.