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Smoking Cessation Services Should Encourage E-Cigarette Use, UK Experts Say

The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has recently appealed to smoking cessation services across the country to promote electronic cigarettes as low-risk alternatives to smoking as a way of improving public health and saving lives.

teen-vapingAccording to RSPH experts, it’s time for NHS stop smoking services to adopt a less negative attitude toward cigarettes and educate the public about the difference between nicotine dependence and inhaling thousands of known dangerous substances such as tar and arsenic generated by tobacco combustion. “Clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine, but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking-related disease to instead addressing the issue of addiction to a substance which, in and of itself, is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction,” RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said

Obviously, the Royal Society for Public Health would rather people not smoke or vape, but Cramer says getting people off cigarettes and on nicotine would make a “big difference” on public health. “Over 100,000 people die from smoking-related disease every year in the UK. While we have made good progress to reduce smoking rates, one in five of us still does. Most people smoke through habit and to get their nicotine hit,” she added.

The Society’s positive stance on electronic cigarettes may have been prompted by the results of a recent online survey it commissioned earlier this month, which showed that nine out of ten adults (out of 2,072 polled) still regarded nicotine itself as a harmful substance. Scientific research conducted in resent years has shown this to be false, but the public is being mislead by scaremongering articles in the media and unfounded public statements made by politicians and zealous anti-smoking activists.

Shirley Cramer and her team believe National Health Services should actually encourage smokers trying to quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes and even recommend creating new “exclusion zones” where smoking is barred, but vaping is not, outside schools, bars and pubs and in public squares and parks. NHS smoking cessation services cannot currently provide e-cigarettes to smokers trying to quit, because they are not licensed as medical products, like traditional nicotine replacement therapies (patches, gum, lozenges, etc.).

The Department of Health in England also appears to be in accord with the RSPH on the issue of electronic cigarettes, stating that “The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit completely. However, for those not ready to quit, evidence shows using e-cigarettes, in the short term, poses a lower risk to health than smoking.” They did also bring up the issue of regulation, which is particularly controversial these days. “We are regulating these products to make sure they are even safer and want to see local stop-smoking services welcoming smokers wishing to use e-cigarettes to support their quit attempts. Although we recognise that e-cigarettes may help adults to quit, we still want to protect children from becoming addicted to nicotine, which is why we have made it illegal for under-18s to buy them,” the Department added.

Unfortunately, it’s these regulations – scheduled to take effect in May 2016 – that will likely thwart any efforts of combating smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes. According to the new Tobacco Products Directive approved by the European Union, all but the obsolete 1st generation electronic cigarettes will be banned, paving the way for Big Tobacco to dominate the e-cig market. None of the newer, more effective vaporizers can hope to meet the directive’s strict guidelines, which is most likely what lawmakers were hoping for when they drew up the ludicrous paperwork.

As Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health, says “Scientists have known for many years that it’s the smoke in cigarettes that’s deadly, not the nicotine. Unfortunately, this is not well understood by smokers, medical professionals or the media, many of whom still think nicotine causes heart disease and cancer. The persistence of this misconception will cost lives as smokers who otherwise would switch to alternative sources of nicotine are put off. The time for this misunderstanding to be put right is long overdue.” Long overdue is correct, and all of us European vapers will feel the effects very soon.

via The Guardian

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