September 21, 2017
Electronic cigarettes are “definitely less harmful” than smoking tobacco, according to health experts.
Over 20 organisations including the NHS, Scottish Government, charities and academic institutions have teamed up to “clarify perceptions” about the harms and benefits of vaping.
The experts claim smokers who take up vaping consume much less cancer-causing chemicals and said using e-cigarettes could help them find a way of quitting the habit.
But they said using e-cigarettes while still smoking tobacco has no health benefit.
NHS Health Scotland has published the “consensus statement”.
It said: “There is now agreement based on the current evidence that vaping e-cigarettes is definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco.
“Although most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive, vaping carries less risk than smoking tobacco. Thus, it would be a good thing if smokers used them instead of tobacco.
“Using e-cigarettes without stopping smoking (dual use) does not provide health benefits. Anyone who is using both should be strongly encouraged to stop smoking tobacco as soon as they can.”
Dr Andrew Fraser, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, commented: “Recent research has shown an emerging perception among the general public that e-cigarettes are just as harmful to health as tobacco is.
“This is not the case – we know from current evidence that vaping carries less risk than smoking tobacco.
“To be absolutely clear, e-cigarettes are useful for public health and health service purposes only as a potential route towards stopping smoking completely. Access to e-cigarettes needs to be controlled carefully; they are not products for children or non-smokers.”
ASH Scotland, the anti-smoking charity, contributed to the document.
Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “Although we still don’t know the long-term health effects of vaping, we can be confident that any smoker switching entirely to e-cigarettes will be taking in far fewer cancer-causing chemicals.
“Tobacco is lethal and I’d encourage anyone who smokes to find a way of quitting that works for them, which could include using e-cigarettes, and to make use of the free NHS stop-smoking support available to help.”