After a government-backed report found that e-cigarettes are 20 times less harmful than regular cigarettes, British public health officials are urging smokers to start vaping. This suggestion comes despite the government’s uncertainty over e-cigs’ long-term effects.
As of this writing, no e-cigarettes of any kind have been licensed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) or the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
However, according to a report last month by Public Health England, Kings College London and Queen Mary London, e-cigs only have five percent the risk of traditional cigarettes. This prompted officials to urge strongly smokers to switch to vaping.
The Experts Weigh In
Experts say that once e-cigarettes are regulated, these should be added to the National Health Service (NHS).
Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Well-being at PHE says, “E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm.
“We’re encouraging smokers to look at e-cigarettes as a way to help them to reduce exposure to harm from smoking.
“At the moment there are no licensed products that can be used for medicinal purposes and that’s why we are very supportive of the MRHA looking at the pathway for ensuring that there are safe and regulated e-cigarettes that can be promoted for medical purposes.
“Smoking continues to cause the greatest numbers of preventable deaths each year. Our ambition remains to see the first smoke-free generation by 2025.”
Professor Ann McNeill of Kings College London comments, “We haven’t seen anyone die from e-cigarettes.” She adds that every smoker should at least try vaping and that e-cigs “could be a game-changer” when it comes to public health.
However, some experts still caution the use of e-cigarettes, warning users not to get addicted because the long-term effects of vaping have yet to be documented. Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation says, “we… advise that anyone using e-cigarettes to quit smoking should do so with a view to eventually quitting them too.”
Quitting smoking altogether without the need for any smoking cessation tool is always the best option. However, e-cigarettes are a viable alternative. If all smokers in the world took up vaping today, an innumerable number of smoking-related deaths would be prevented overnight.
Professor Linda Bauld of the Cancer Research UK is a firm believer in the potential of e-cigarettes, saying that “the overall evidence points to e-cigarettes actually helping people to give up smoking tobacco.”