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UK Emergency Rooms to Offer Free E-Cigarettes to Smokers

Hospital emergency rooms in London and other cities in the UK will offer free electronic cigarettes to smokers, as part of a trial run designed to help people quit.

In a time when the United States are banning the US Postal Service from shipping tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping supplies, in the UK, authorities are making e-cigs available to smokers for free, in hospitals. If you’ve been reading the propaganda spread by vaping opponents through mainstream media outlets, the idea of e-cigarettes being made available in hospital emergency rooms must seem preposterous. After all, these things put people in the hospital, they were responsible for the EVALI epidemic, right?

Well, apparently, public health officials in Britain are stern believers in science and medical evidence, and since they clearly show that vaping is a less dangerous alternative to smoking tobacco, and that it can actually help smokers quit, they decided to make it as easily available as possible. Sure, the emergency room seems a bit extreme, at least considering the controversy around e-cigarettes and nicotine, but there’s logic behind that decision.

“Emergency Departments in England see over 24 million people each year of whom around a quarter are current smokers,” trial co-lead Dr Ian Pope, from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said. “Attending the Emergency Department offers a valuable opportunity for people to be supported to quit smoking, which will improve their chances of recovery from whatever has brought them to hospital, and also prevent future illness.”

Smokers who agree to take part in this interesting trial will be randomly assigned to receive either an e-cigarette starter pack, as well as a referral to local stop smoking services and smoking advice as they wait their turn at the hospital emergency department, or just written information about local stop smoking services.

Researchers hope to recruit around 1,000 smokers to the trial, who will be then be quizzed at three-month and six-month checkups, to see if they are still smoking. This way, scientists hope to get a clearer idea of how effective e-cigs can be at helping smokers quit. Meanwhile, they’ll also be working out how much it would cost to roll out the scheme nationwide.

“Many people who smoke want to quit, but find it difficult to succeed in the long term,” Prof Caitlin Notley, also from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said. “Electronic cigarettes mimic the experience of cigarette smoking because they are hand-held and generate a smoke-like vapor when used. We know that they are much less harmful than smoking tobacco, and that they have been shown to help smokers quit.”

Meanwhile, pretty much everywhere else, from the US, to Asia and even in the European Union, e-cigarettes are facing massive opposition from both law makers and health organizations. Those Brits and their science-based approach…

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