Doctors Want E-Cigs Offered to Smokers


Leading medical body encourages the distribution of electronic cigarettes to smokers.

The UK’s Royal College of Physicians supports this movement and claims there is enough evidence to prove that e-cigs are “much safer”.

A new 200 page report says with the right measures and checks, vaping could improve the lives of millions of people. Although people still largely buy e-cigs, as opposed to getting them on the NHS, the report also claims the fears over vaping leading to regular smoking is unfounded. UK doctors can only prescribe e-cigarettes if they have been licensed as a “quit smoking aid” . This is something that requires strict regulation. Few e-cig manufacturers go down this route and instead sell products only for satisfying users’ desire for nicotine without the harmful chemicals produced by tobacco.

E-cigarettes first went on sale in 2007 and their popularity has been steadily rising since, with now being their most popular time. Now they have replaced nicotine patches and gum as the primary method of quitting. Nearly all e-cig users are ex-smokers or current smokers who are trying to cut down or quit and its estimated around 1 in 20 adults in the UK use them. Although they can still be controversial, with people still calling for them to be banned in public places.

Anatomy of an e-cig
Anatomy of an e-cig

In terms of long-term health hazards, e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than your bog standard cigarettes. Professor John Britton, who co-authored the RCP report, says e-cigarettes are extremely positive for public health and should be “encouraged and endorsed”. He said:

“The public need to be reassured this is not a new nicotine epidemic in the making. E-cigarettes have very little downside and a lot of potential benefit.”

According to Public Health England, smokers should consider using e-cigarettes alongside NHS quit-smoking services. Around a third of UK smokers try to quit each year, but only one in every six of those succeeds.

New EU regulations are due to come into force in May that will set safety and quality standards for all e-cigarettes and refills. Manufacturers will be required to disclose the purity of their products to consumers. A Department of Health spokesperson said:

“The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit smoking.”
“We know that there are now over a million people who have completely replaced smoking with e-cigarettes and that the evidence indicates that they are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco.”
“We want to see a wide range of good quality e-cigarettes on the market including licensed products whose safety, quality and effectiveness are independently assured.”

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