Counterintuitive health: E-cigarette use

It may seem counterintuitive for an eminent health body to be seen to advocate the use of e-cigarettes.

Yet that is exactly what Britain’s Royal College of Physicians is doing, arguing that they are likely to bring benefits for public health and should be widely promoted to smokers to help them quit tobacco.

The Irish Cancer Society has a different view, refusing to recommend them without guarantees of their long-term safety. That is an understandable but unrealistic position.

In its 2014 position paper on e-cigarettes, the ICS says their use should be limited and fully regulated, recommending that “smokers seeking to quit do so by giving up immediately and permanently”. That is all very well but in the real world, many smokers find it impossible to do so.

If e-cigarettes can help to prevent deaths from smoking, they should not be demonised but welcomed while, at the same time, ensuring that the all-powerful tobacco giants do not get their clutches on them by enslaving another generation to their products in pursuit of profit.


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