Vaping on the NHS!?!
Electronic cigarettes have been hitting the news again in recent weeks and following publication of a study performed by the University Collage in London controversy has been raised as to whether they should be supplied by the NHS.
Lead by head researcher Professor Robert West, their study included a survey of 5,863 smokers in England who had attempted to stop smoking without the aid of prescription medication or professional support.
The study showed that people were 60% more successful in stopping smoking when using electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking than they would have been by using nicotine containing patches or chewing gum.
Based on their findings Professor West says ''E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking" and added “It would be perfectly reasonable for the NHS to consider e-cigarettes as a treatment option." A comment that sparked much debate in the media.
Those opposed to the idea of the NHS funding the electronic cigarette argue that since people seem to be able to afford to smoke therefore they should certainly be able to fund their use of electronic cigarettes.
Whilst on the flip side other voices say that since the NHS is already funding peoples quitting efforts with medically regulated prescription patches and chewing gums, extending this help to include electronic cigarettes would be the most logical step adding that any person who succeeds in quitting smoking will inevitably cease to cost the NHS in providing health care they would almost certainly need to treat smoking related illness should they have continued to smoke.
Further Studies & Research:
Alison Cox, head of tobacco policy for Cancer Research UK' said ''Smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer and accounts for more than one in four cancer deaths in the UK." She says "Helping smokers to stop is a vital contribution to the health of the UK" and "E-cigarettes may have a role in helping people to quit smoking but while the rapid rise in their popularity suggests a real opportunity the evidence for their effectiveness is so far limited". Alison went on to say "Cancer Research UK is funding much-needed research into e-cigarette use to help inform policy development and individuals' choices, and research such as this is helping to paint a clearer picture.''
Whilst the vaping community has fought hard to keep electronic cigarettes out of medical regulations (it has been announced that they will be regulated and licenced from 2016) and would have preferred that they remain classified and regulated as consumer products, it is very much in favour of studies properly carried out that will prove their safety for both long or short term use. Regardless of the reasons people took the decision to try vaping, whether it be for health or financial reasons Vapers wish to continue to be able to self-regulate their own nicotine use rather than to have this dictated by a doctors prescription which they feel would not be adequate and worry this might actually drive them back to smoking the cigarettes they thought they had left behind them. Many hundreds of vapers would choose to continue to use these products or the long term and having found a way to replace those cigarettes see no reason to stop vaping at all.
Professor West himself acknowledges this and says "Some people quitting smoking might want to keep using e-cigarettes indefinitely" and of his study said that 'It was not clear whether or not this carried long-term health risks.
''From what is known about the contents of the vapour, any health risk will be much less than from smoking".
Does seeing people vaping, re-normalise smoking?
Whilst vaping across the UK has become more and more popular it is now not uncommon to see people choosing to vape. Shops who specialise in vaping products are appearing on our high streets and of course there are those, like Exhale who have been online retailers for a number of years. Witnessing this people opposed to smoking are expressing concern that widespread use of electronic cigarettes will re-normalise smoking and that this might then go on to become a gateway into smoking for young people. When asked about the possibility or likelihood of this Professor West reassuringly says that as part of his research "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.''
Exhale welcomes all studies into the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes and of their safety for both in long and short term use and, as always, will be watching the news closely and making sure that is products comply with all regulations as they come into force.
University College London: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0514/20051...
Telegraph online - Health News: 20/5/14: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/1084...