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Smoking cessation

Smokers should be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes, urges UK doctors body

Healthcare professionals should encourage smokers to switch their tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes because vaping is much safer than smoking, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) says in a new report.

Healthcare professionals should encourage smokers to switch their tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes because vaping is much safer than smoking, the Royal College of Physicians says in a new report.

The report, Nicotine without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction, examines the science, public policy, regulation, and ethics surrounding the products and concludes that the use of e-cigarettes is likely to lead to attempts to quit that would not otherwise have happened, some of which will be successful. In this way, e-cigarettes could actually act as a “gateway from smoking” rather than a gateway to it.

“Large-scale substitution of e-cigarettes, or other non-tobacco nicotine products, for tobacco smoking has the potential to prevent almost all the harm from smoking in society. Promoting e-cigarettes, nicotine replacement therapy and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible, as a substitute for smoking, is therefore likely to generate significant health gains in the UK,” the report says.

Evidence shows that in the UK use of e-cigarettes has been limited almost entirely to people who already use or have used tobacco, but there is no evidence that their use has resulted in a re-normalisation of smoking or that they have acted as a significant gateway to smoking for adult never smokers or young people, the report explains.

The report adds that any harm from long-term use of e-cigarettes will be substantially less than the harm arising from tobacco smoking. Available data have shown that, at the most, the risks of e-cigarette use are only 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products and may well be substantially lower.

Click here for our perspective article on e-cigarettes, ‘E-cigarettes in smoking cessation: a harm reduction perspective.’

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201091

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