NHS should consider prescribing e-cigarettes
A major study has found that those using electronic cigarettes were 60% more likely to quit than those using gum or patches.
Researchers from the University College London say that even though e-cigarettes are yet to be licensed by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, new evidence has shown them to be very effective at helping smokers quit.
With e-cigarettes proving to be 60% more effective than other nicotine replacement therapies (such as gum or patches), researchers say the NHS should consider prescribing them to those looking to quit.
Professor Robert West (the study leader), said:
“E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking.
It would be perfectly reasonable for the NHS to consider e-cigarettes as an option.”
Prof West goes on to highlight the importance of recognising that the strongest evidence for quitting smoking lies in the NHS stop-smoking services. These services almost triple a smoker’s odds of quitting, compared to doing it alone or with over-the-counter products.
The study in question looked at the impact e-cigarettes had on those who had attempted to stop smoking in the past without the aid of medication or professional support. Surveying 5,863 smokers revealed that those using e-cigarettes were 60% more likely to quit than those who didn’t.
Prof West also acknowledged that some quitter may continue to use e-cigarettes indefinitely, and that the long-term health risks of this are unclear,
“From what is known about the contents of the vapour these will be much less than from smoking.”
Alison Cox, head of tobacco policy at Cancer Research UK said that helping smokers to stop is a vital contribution to the health of the UK. She admitted that the rapid rise in popularity of e-cigarettes suggests a great opportunity, but the evidence for their evidence is at present limited. She did say that Cancer Research UK is funding important research into the use of e-cigarettes to help inform policy development, and that research such as this is helping to create a clearer picture.
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