The most recent report, April 2016 from the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has come out strongly in favour of the use of e-cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco smoking. The RCP’s special advisor on tobacco and Chair of the TAG, Professor John Britton, said 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 in the UK.’
The report alleviates concerns about e-cigarettes being a ‘gateway’ product for young people: all the available evidence to date suggests that vaping is almost exclusively taken up by confirmed smokers who are looking for a healthier alternative for themselves and those around them.
The report found that electronic cigarettes are proving to be much more popular than Nicotine Replacement Therapy products, and ‘appear to be effective’ when used as an aid to quite smoking. Particularly positive was the finding that using an e-cigarette led to a quit attempt that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.
Concerning the widespread controversy surrounding e-cigarettes, the report clearly establishes that while there are risks associated with vaping, the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, finding that the health risks from inhaling vapour from an e-cigarette is ‘unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.’
So, with the evidence suggesting that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco, the report suggests that while sensible regulation should be encouraged, it should not be at the expense of technological innovation. Continued product development will build on the capacity to alleviate any risks associated with vaping. RCP Chair Professor Jane Dacre summed it up:
‘With careful management and proportionate regulation, harm reduction provides and opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people. It is an opportunity that, with care, we should take.’
The full report can be downloaded at: Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction