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Make smoking cessation services e-cigarette friendly, urges RSPH

13 August 2015

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Smoking cessation services and commissioners should consider trialling an ‘e-cigarette friendly’ approach, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has said today.

The RSPH is also calling for e-cigarettes to be renamed as vapourisers or nicotine control products, as there is “significant misunderstanding surrounding nicotine” and research to date indicates that inhaling e-cigarette vapour is significantly less harmful to the user than smoking tobacco, they said.

The organisation also recommend the mandatory sale of e-cigarettes in all outlets selling regular cigarettes in todays report Stopping Smoking by Using Other Sources of Nicotine.

“E-cigarettes have achieved considerable popularity in the UK, with a growing evidence base demonstrating their potential as a smoking cessation tool. E-cigarettes have the potential to not only address the nicotine aspect of tobacco dependency, but may alleviate some of the other factors as well, such as the habituation of holding a cigarette,” the report read.

There is currently significant variation between services in terms of their approach to e-cigarettes. The stop smoking service in Leicester became the first ‘e-cigarette friendly’ service in 2014, meaning that they will provide support and guidance to those seeking to quit using an e-cigarette. The report said that, while other services have followed suit, this approach is not universal.

While some e-cigarettes may be visually similar to combustible tobacco products, they do not contain tobacco, nor are they smoked; instead, nicotine that has been removed from the tobacco leaves, is suspended in a solution of glycerine or propylene glycol, water, and sometimes flavourings, then heated to form a vapour.

The RSPH is also calling for the government to introduce “smoking exclusion zones”, and for the smoking ban to be extended further “to include school gates, the outside areas of bars and restaurants and also, all public parks and squares,” they said in today’s report, Stopping Smoking by Using Other Sources of Nicotine.

The report said: “This would significantly reduce the convenience of smoking… It would also reduce the visibility of cigarette usage and serve to further de-normalise smoking, thus potentially discouraging people, particularly children, from beginning to smoke in the future.”

As the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the UK, smoking kills an estimated 100,000 people each year,more than the next five largest causes of preventable death combined.