Medicine

Helpful or harmful - what is the truth about e-cigarettes?

Helpful or harmful - what is the truth about e-cigarettes?

Critics argue that e-cigarettes could act as a "gateway" to smoking, especially for young people - but this report claims non-smokers are very unlikely to take up vaping.

A new report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee (STC) says rules around e-cigarettes should be relaxed to help accelerate already declining smoking rates.

Public Health England estimates that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than normal cigarettes.

The government has been urged to make e-cigarettes available on the NHS after a probe by MPs found numerous health concerns around "vaping" are wrong. Exactly how much is disputed - including Public Health England's estimate that it is 95 per cent safer - but few think e-cigarettes will turn out to be more unsafe than a product that kills 60 per cent of its users....

While "uncertainties" remain about the long-term health impact of the devices, they present "an opportunity to significantly accelerate already declining smoking rates", the committee of MPs said.

"But it does not change the key facts that e-cigarette use is much safer than smoking".

Parliament's Science and technology Committee said Friday that e-cigarettes, or vapes, should be available on prescription and should not automatically be banned in public places.

While it is illegal for people to buy e-cigarettes under the age of 18, there have been reports of children as young as 11 in South Holland seen vaping. Juul said it chose Britain as its third market - after the US and Israel - partly because of the country's supportive approach to vaping.

'There is no public health rationale for doing so.




"It is therefore extraordinary that one-third of mental health trusts ban the use of e-cigarettes completely, while three-quarters of NHS trusts are mistakenly concerned about "second-hand" e-cigarette vapour".

'E-cigs in teens are a gateway to subsequent smoking lit cigarettes and e-cig vapour contains a large number of toxins which in time will obviously harm users, and bystanders'.

- The government, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and the e-cigarette industry should review how approval systems for stop smoking therapies could be streamlined should e-cigarette manufacturers put forward a product for medical licensing.

- The government should continue to annually review the evidence on the health effects of e-cigarettes and extend that review to heat-not-burn products.

The Government has said it will "carefully consider" the evidence and recommendations made by the STC.

Meanwhile, NHS England's "default" policy should be that e-cigarettes are permitted on mental health units, to address the "stubbornly high" levels of smoking among people with mental health conditions, the report said.

Expert opinion is divided on whether e-cigarettes can act as a young person's gateway to tobacco.

MPs want to review a ban preventing such a move - as it would now be considered as tobacco advertising.

What are electronic cigarettes? E-cigarettes were first introduced to the United Kingdom market in 2007.


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