Public Health England has suggested hospitals throughout the UK should provide places where people can vape, alongside vape devices and vape juice supplies available for sale. The agency has also recommended e-cigarettes be made available on prescription for those wishing to quit smoking.
Thousands of people are making the switch every year
PHE recently published an independent review of the latest information and facts surrounding vaping. The report found at least 20,000 people are successfully quitting smoking by switching to e-cigarettes each year. Experts from Public Health England contributed an article to The Lancet, saying the health risks associated with vaping are “less than 5% of that from smoking tobacco.” They went on to say the risk of a vaper contracting cancer is lower than 1%, according to the latest calculations.
Could e-cigs eventually be official quitting aids?
The push to encourage e-cigarettes as an official quitting tool is clearly in contention. PHE has suggested the Government should support manufacturers in getting the proper licensing into place that would allow electronic cigarettes to be used as an official aid to quit smoking. Data has shown that just shy of three million people across the UK now use vaping supplies. However, while figures have shot up to reach that level in recent years, there are signs those figures have now flattened out.
This could be partly due to some people believing sources that claim vaping is dangerous to health and is no better than smoking. This is a concern, since all the evidence points to the contrary. Many people have successfully quit smoking by switching to vaping. Indeed, a recent study has confirmed no adverse health effects were seen in 200 volunteers who stopped smoking and switched to vaping.
“Two parts to being a smoke-free hospital”
It makes sense PHE would support every hospital in the drive to become smoke-free. The tobacco control lead for Public Health England, Martin Dockerell, pointed to the two aspects that contribute towards a hospital being truly smoke-free. The first is to ban smoking on site, while the second is to support smokers in quitting.
Mr Dockerell clearly wants to see more support for vaping, in the hope it will encourage more smokers to quit. Making it easier for people to vape, when this is by far the safer option, makes perfect sense. Whether the reality will follow through on this idea remains to be seen.
Would more people quit if electronic cigarettes were made available on prescription?
We think they would. Since some people mistakenly believe e-cigs are as dangerous as smoking, they have no incentive to make the switch. Yet if GPs were able to recommend vaping on prescription, many would no doubt take it up. If vaping was recognised more readily by the medical profession, as it seems it may be on the way to being, it could mean we see lots more people quitting smoking.
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