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Scotland’s National Health Service Officially Admits E-Cigarettes Are Safer Than Analogs

For the first time in history, electronic cigarettes have been included in the official NHS Scotland guidance aimed at smokers looking to quit.

using-e-cigarettesIn the past, it is believed some quit-smoking services in Scotland simply turned away smokers wanting to use electronic cigarettes but according to the new National Health Service guidance, these people should not be told to stop if there is even the smallest risk they might go back to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Although the NHS still recommends smokers try licensed nicotine replacement products like inhalers, patches or gum, prevention of relapse to smoking is now its main priority, so it is recommending even unlicensed products like electronic cigarettes as a better alternative to tobacco. According to Fiona Moore, public health adviser at NHS Scotland, the increased interest and growing number of questions about e-cigarettes have prompted them to revise their guidance.

Newly-released figures showed only 103,431 registered attempts to quit smoking using official NHS services, 13 percent less than the previous year. Collected data indicated the rising popularity of e-cigarettes partly explained the steep decrease in NHS services usage, so not including them in the guidance meant losing out on the extra support they offer.

Moore added that now people using electronic cigarettes who are unwilling to swap them for other products would only be encouraged to try other services as well, in the hope of eventually coming off them as well. While the NHS recognizes e-cigarettes’ potential to keep some people off tobacco, its ultimate goal remains to remove nicotine dependence entirely. “There is a risk that maybe if people can’t access the brand of e-cigarettes they use, it might be easier just to buy ordinary cigarettes and that would be them re-hooked,” Moore said.

On the issue of long-term e-cigarette usage safety, the revised NHS guidance points out there is still little evidence to go by, but states that “current expert opinion on the limited evidence available suggests that they are likely to be considerably less hazardous than tobacco smoking.”

Previously, Mitch Zeller, director of the US Food and Drug Administration also admitted using electronic cigarettes is safer than smoking.

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