E-cigarettes get backing from UK public health body

The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) is calling for wider adoption of electronic cigarettes by smoking cessation services. In the image, a variety of e-cigarettes on display

The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) is calling for wider adoption of electronic cigarettes by smoking cessation services, and better education so that people understand the difference between nicotine addiction and the harmful effects of smoking. 

In a statement, the RSPH said nicotine itself is not damaging in low concentrations and that it is only dangerous when combined with other chemicals found in cigarettes. Yet research conducted by the RSPH reveals that 90% of the public still regard nicotine itself as harmful. To counter this confusion, the RSPH has proposed a number of measures to promote the use of safer nicotine products. 

These measures include: introducing a smoking exclusion zone around pubs, bars and schools but still allowing the use of e-cigarettes; wider adoption of e-cigarettes by smoking cessation services; mandatory sale of nicotine replacement products in shops that sell cigarettes; and renaming e-cigarettes to vaporisers or nicotine sticks to distance them from tobacco products. 

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH, said that getting people to transfer from cigarettes to nicotine replacement products would make a big difference to the public’s health. “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 address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction,” she added. 

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 5 September 2015, Vol 295, No 7878;295(7878):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20069172