Royal Society for Public Health says health bosses should encourage people to quit tobacco for nicotine-only e-cigarettes and proposes licensing tobacco sellers
By James Meikle for The Guardian
Health chiefs across the UK have been urged to take a less negative attitude towards e-cigarettes and embrace their use in the battle against more harmful tobacco smoking. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) says a public education programme is needed to differentiate the problem of addiction to nicotine, which is an ingredient in both e-cigarettes and tobacco, from the inhaling of dangerous chemicals such as tar and arsenic in tobacco cigarettes.
NHS stop smoking services should offer more help to people seeking to end their habit by using e-cigarettes, the society says, calling also for new “exclusion zones” barring smoking, but not e-cigarettes, outside schools, bars and pubs and in public squares and parks.
Smoking cessation services are unable to provide e-cigarettes to people trying to quit tobacco because none yet have a medicines licence, unlike other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as gum, lozenges and patches. But the RSPH says more services should follow the example of those in Leicester and north-east England in offering behavioural support to those wanting to quit tobacco and using e-cigarettes to try to do so.
Chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “Over 100,000 people die from smoking-related diseases every year in the UK. While we have made good progress to reduce smoking rates, one in five of us still does [smoke]. Most people smoke through habit and to get their nicotine hit.”
The RSPH would rather people didn’t smoke, said Cramer, but getting people on to nicotine rather than using tobacco would make “a big difference” to the public’s health.