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E Cigarettes – Declared Much Less Harmful Than Smoking By Royal College of Physicians

A new Royal College of Physicians report supports the role of electronic cigarettes as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy

This morning BBC Breakfast broadcast an interview with Dr. Nick Hopkinson of the Royal College of Physicians discussing a recent report from the RCP that states the use of E-cigarettes is ‘much less harmful than smoking and should be encouraged’.

The 200 page report contains the most thorough analysis of evidence regarding the use of electronic cigarettes to date and also suggests that: “Among smokers, e-cigarette use is likely to lead to quit attempts that would not otherwise have happened, and in a proportion of these to successful cessation. In this way, e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking.”

Around a third of smokers in the UK attempt to quit each year, but only one is six of these attempts are successful.

E-Cigarette sales have been steadily rising since 2009 and since 2012, they have replaced nicotine patches and gum to become the most popular choice of smoking cessation aid in England.

Roughly one in 20 adults in England uses e-cigarettes and almost all are ex-smokers or current smokers attempting to cut down or completely stop using tobacco.

This report essentially puts to rest the ‘increasingly common misconception’ that electronic cigarettes present a danger to public health and states: “the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking”.

Professor John Britton, who co-authored the RCP report, says e-cigarettes are extremely positive for public health.

“E-cigarettes should be encouraged and endorsed. The public need to be reassured this is not a new nicotine epidemic in the making. E-cigarettes have very little downside and a lot of potential benefit.”

During the interview on BBC Breakfast Dr. Hopkinson explained that during the writing of the report no evidence was found to suggest e-cigarettes are a “gateway to smoking” or normalise the habit – but experts agree they are beneficial for encouraging smokers to quit.

Professor Britton, who also chairs the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group also said: “The growing use of electronic cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco smoking has been a topic of great controversy, with much speculation over their potential risks and benefits.

“This report lays to rest almost all of the concerns over these products … Smokers should be reassured that these products can help them quit all tobacco use forever.”

What are your thoughts on the report published by the Royal College of Physicians? Did you take to e-cigarettes in a bid to quit smoking altogether?

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