Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Government must stop overlooking '95% less harmful' e-cigarettes, say MPs

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                    The government is being used to make e-cigarettes available through the NHS to help smokers kick the habit PA Wire PA Images The government is being used to make e-cigarettes available through the NHS to help smokers kick the habit
Johnnie Parks | 19 August, 2018, 23:31

A report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee says ministers should "urgently" review the prescribing restrictions on e-cigarette products, which MPs conclude are 95% less harmful to health than conventional cigarettes and are too often overlooked as a smoking cessation tool.

Spokeswoman Moira Gilchrist said: "We strongly support the recommendation for the relaxation of regulations that would allow smokers to be informed about the health benefits of alternatives to smoking such as e-cigarettes".

The report was published as a result of the committee's inquiry into the impact of e-cigarettes on health, their potential use as a smoking cessation aid, regulations around the products and the implications of their growing market share.

The government has been urged to make e-cigarettes available on the NHS after a probe by MPs found numerous health concerns around "vaping" are wrong.

The report is the latest in a long-running debate about e-cigarettes and their harm.

They say if e-cigarettes become more socially acceptable, less people will smoke and cause harm to themselves and others.

But the report's recommendations have come under fire by some public health experts, with one saying it relies on accounts from "e-cig champions".

According to the report: "Expert opinion is that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco but not completely harmless".

The report follows a statement by Public Health England earlier this year in which health officials called for more tolerance for e-cigarette users and for hospitals to provide patients with vaping lounges.

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Rules around e-cigarettes should be relaxed to help accelerate already declining smoking rates, MPs have said.

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The Department of Health and Social Care estimates e-cigarettes contribute to between 16,000 and 22,000 people successfully quitting smoking each year "who would not otherwise have done so had they used nicotine replacement therapies or willpower alone". Nicotine - which is contained in e-cigarettes - is itself an addictive substance that increases heart rate and blood pressure.

The report also found that second-hand vapour wasn't as risky as previously thought, and that e-cigarettes aren't a gateway to smoking.

And they said bans on vaping in public places - such as in hospitals, restaurants or on buses - should be reconsidered.

The committee called on businesses, transport providers and local authorities to stop viewing "conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same" as there is no "public health rationale for doing so".

"Vaping", the authority said, "should be made a more convenient as well as safer option".

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: 'E-cigarettes are not without harm but are way safer than the harms of tobacco.

The shop also has a strict "Challenge 25" policy so people have to produce ID if they look younger than 25.

- There should be a shift to a more risk-proportionate regulatory environment where regulations, advertising rules and tax duties reflect the evidence of the relative harms of the various e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn and tobacco products available.

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