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E-cigarettes are a useful tool in getting people to stop smoking

E-cigarettes have the potential to help radically reduce the incidence of death and disability due to tobacco use, a new study says.

E-cigarettes have the potential to help radically reduce the incidence of death and disability due to tobacco use, a new study says.

Royal College of Physicians (RCP) researchers advise that e-cigarettes, along with other non-tobacco nicotine products ‘offer the potential to radically reduce harm from smoking in our society. This is an opportunity that should be managed and taken.’

Despite significant declines over recent decades there are still nine million smokers in the UK and smoking is the largest avoidable cause of early death and disability.

Researcher John Britton argues that nicotine absorbed from cigarettes causes little harm, but carcinogens, carbon monoxide and thousands of other toxins in tobacco smoke are fatal.

About 2.6 million people use e-cigarettes – known as vaping – in the UK. Almost all were smokers but one third no longer are.

While the study stresses that long-term vapour inhalation from e-cigarettes is not entirely safe, the researchers add it is unlikely to cause more than 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco. They found no evidence that e-cigarettes renormalise smoking.

‘E-cigarettes reduce the harm to individuals and society from tobacco use and should continue to be supported by government and promoted as a tobacco harm reduction strategy,’ the study authors conclude.

Reference

Britton J et al (2016). Nicotine without smoke – putting electronic cigarettes in context. BMJ.

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