The British Royal College of Physicians report says e-cigarettes should be widely promoted as a substitute to smoking. The authors conclude that smokers can be reassured and encouraged to use the devices. Experts made a series of conclusions about the devices including E-cigarettes are not a “gateway to smoking”, use of e-cigarettes are used mostly by those who are already using, or have used, tobacco. There is no evidence that e-cigarettes result in normalisation of smoking; n The devices are beneficial in encouraging smokers to quit.
There is a possibility that the devices may result in some long-term harm because of the inhalation of the ingredients other than nicotine but the harm that could be caused is substantially smaller than that caused by smoking, the authors said.
While there is a need for “sensible” regulation of the devices, regulation should not significantly inhibit the development and use of the products, they add. Prof John Britton, chair of the college’s tobacco advisory group, 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, and concludes that, with sensible regulation, electronic cigarettes have the potential to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes.”
Commenting on the report, Pat Doorley, chair of the policy group on tobacco at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said that while e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco products, there are still some concerns around their use, particularly long-term.
“The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland recommends that people who need help with smoking cessation speak to their GP or pharmacist to get advice about all treatment options such as nicotine replacement therapies and psychological supports,” he said.