E-cigarettes should be available on the NHS

Feb 08, 2018, 00:08
E-cigarettes should be available on the NHS

It comes as Public Health England (PHE) urged hospitals in Britain to begin selling e-cigarettes and to provide patients with vaping lounges.

E-cigarette use was also associated with improved quit success rates over the last year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country, and could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful quit attempts per year. Their conclusion on e-cigarette safety also finds that based on the available evidence 'e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes'.

He said the executive would reconsider the ban on HSE campuses ans facilities if Government policy on the "role of e-cigarettes and vaping in tobacco control" changes.

"We want stop-smoking practitioners and health professionals to support smokers who would like to use e-cigarettes to stop", said Ann McNeill, lead author of the review and professor of tobacco addiction at King's College London.

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He said a HIQA assessment of the devices was that "early evidence is promising" but not enough evidence exists for the HSE to recommend them.

Doctors and nurses can not prescribe e-cigarettes to smokers wanting to quit because none has yet been licensed by the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). Thousands of smokers think e-cigarettes are just as risky and 40% of smokers have not tried one, it says.

One reason behind the stall in uptake could be misconceptions about the levels of harm linked to the devices. They wanted, he said, "to maximise the potential benefits, to give every smoker the best chance of quitting but also minimise any risks".

But a shock new editorial by Public Health England (PHE) has advised a ban on puffing anywhere on hospital grounds, including in smoking shelters.

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The experts found two in five smokers have never tried an e-cigarette. "One is not allowing smoking on the premises; the other is helping every smoker to quit". Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don't know.

Mr Dockrell said there was no reason why "a hospital shouldn't designate some indoor areas where patients and visitors can vape".

"Anything that the [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] MHRA can do to make it easier for manufacturers we think would be helpful", said PHE health improvement director John Newton.

But PHE bosses insist smokers trying to quit should be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes, and given the option of buying the equipment in hospitals.

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