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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

No smoke without fire, the debate on e-cigarettes

The issue of e-cigarettes in Wales has got a bit heated recently thanks to a proposal by the Welsh Government to ban their use in public places. It is a proposal that iseing resisted by all three opposition parties in the Senedd.

Their view, which I share is that whereas the smoking ban was based on clear evidence of the damage caused by second-hand smoke, there is no such evidence available to support a similiar measure with regards to e-cigarettes.

The Minister argues that his proposal is to try and prevent the normalisation of smoking, but that effectively means that he is using legislation to manage people's behaviour. More importantly, there is clear evidence, as this report from the BBC outlines, that e-cigarettes help people to give up smoking.

The BBC say that a survey of nearly 6,000 smokers by a University College London team found that  a fifth had quit with the aid of e-cigarettes. 

The lead researcher Prof Robert West, one of the UK's leading experts in this field, said: "E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking."

But he also pointed out that despite the findings - published in the journal Addiction - by far the most effective way of quitting was to use NHS stop smoking services which tripled the odds of a smoker quitting when compared to buying nicotine replacement treatments without specialist help.

And he added: "Some public health experts have expressed concern that widespread use of e-cigarettes could 're-normalise' smoking. However, we are tracking this very closely and see no evidence of it.

"Smoking rates in England are declining, quitting rates are increasing and regular e-cigarette use among never smokers is negligible."

Some real food for thought for the Welsh Government there.
I'm so pleased to read this well considered post.

Let's not forget that using e-cigs instead of NRT increases the chance of giving up by 60% and if not giving up, replacing all the harm that tobacco smoking creates whilst sustaining both the psychomotor and nicotine addictions.
I'm not sure how the 60% improvement over the £66.4million (FY11/12) NHS spend on NRT (not Stop Smoking Service)if people use e-cigs in conjunction extrapolates.

Regarding Professor West's statement: ""Some public health experts have expressed concern that widespread use of e-cigarettes could 're-normalise' smoking. However, we are tracking this very closely and see no evidence of it." there is considerable evidence against this re-normalisation and the Gateway Effect - see the most recent ASH survey: http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_891.pdf

Unfortunately, the sponsored European Union's Tobacco Products Directive effectively bars any e-cig that DOES NOT look like a cigarette... Absurd but will help tobacco and pharmaceutical profits

Sir, I applaud you.
Hi Peter

Thank you for taking this principled stand.

It might also be worth pointing out that in Spain, where vaping has been banned in public, there has been a 70% fall in the number of people using ecigarettes. That's a massive victory for the tobacco industry as well as for the pharmaceutical industry which sells less effective NRT aids.

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