E-cigarettes ‘could be NHS’s key weapon against smoking’

17 Aug 18

The NHS should relax its attitude to e-cigarettes, MPs have recommended in a review of their harmfulness.

The Common’s science and technology committee noted that e-cigarettes are estimated to be 95% less harmful than conventional ones, in a report published on 17 August.

It suggested that they no longer be treated in the same way. 

Specifically, the report recommended that the NHS set a policy allowing mental health facilities to allow e-cigarettes and noted that there is evidence they are an effective tool in getting people to stop smoking tobacco.

It also suggested that policies on how e-cigarettes are taxed and used in public places be reviewed.

Committee chair Norman Lamb said: “E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same. There is no public health rationale for doing so.

“Concerns that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young non-smokers, have not materialised. If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS’s stop smoking arsenal.”

E-cigarettes should be licensed as medicines to allow doctors to prescribe them as stop-smoking aids, the report recommended.

Chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health Deborah Arnott said: “Licensed products could transform the public’s understanding of e-cigarettes and help many more smokers see vaping as a viable alternative to smoking.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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