A new report published to give guidance on the use of electronic cigarettes to all Government funded stop smoking health organisations has been released by the Smoking Cessation Centre.
Many stop smoking organisations have difficulty in deciding if e cigarettes have a role to play in quitting smoking, although they constantly hear evidence from their clients of how electronic cigarettes have helped them to stop smoking, until now they have been advised by Government departments that they should not be considered. This is very frustrating for stop smoking practitioners as the success rates of smokers using sprays, gums, patches and other traditional nicotine replacement products is very low, while they are prevented from recommending e-cigarettes which have a higher success rate in quitting smoking.
This new guidance is designed to help stop smoking agencies by allowing and encouraging the use of e cigarettes in smokers trying to quit.
Electronic Cigarette Facts
The report starts by stating two very important facts that are only know becoming generally accepted by most health and Government organisations:
- People who use electronic cigarettes alongside tobacco cigarettes, usually when they are new to electronic cigarettes and trying to stop smoking, feel an increased motivation to stop smoking tobacco and are able to reduce the number of regular cigarettes they smoke. While this brings some health benefits, the extent cannot be fully determined until complete tobacco smoking cessation is achieved.
- There is no reliable evidence based data to confirm the concern of some health and Government bodies that the use of electronic cigarettes may increase the use of tobacco smoking by normalising the act of smoking. The so called gateway effect has already been dismissed by several health experts in a number of recent surveys and reports.
Electronic Cigarette Information
The report then lists the information and facts used to compile the report:
- Smokers wanting to quit are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes and in particular smokers who are concerned about the health risks of tobacco and smokers who want to save money
- Electronic cigarette quality has improved vastly over the last 5 years and the devices are now very effective in delivering nicotine levels similar to those found in traditional cigarettes
- E Cigarettes have helped many smokers to quit by reducing the urge to smoke
- Data from a high quality controlled and random study showed that e cigarettes were more effective than any of the current nicotine replacement products available, even without the support of a trained practitioner that is usually available with NRT products
- Very few serious risks can be associated with the use of electronic cigarettes. The symptom reported most commonly is irritation of the throat and or mouth by new users, with the condition improving and clearing with longer use
- While there is no conclusive data on the safety of long term e cigarette use available at this time, there is no reason to believe that e cigarette use carries anywhere near the health risks of smoking tobacco.
- Vapour from some electronic cigarettes has been shown to contain low level traces of toxicants, but in far lower levels than in tobacco cigarettes and the passive inhalation risk is negligible
Positive Advice on E Cigarettes
The report goes on to recommend that stop smoking services and agencies offer positive advice to smokers on the benefits of electronic cigarette use including:
- Smokers who are keen to use electronic cigarettes should be encouraged to do so, especially smokers who have tried other stop smoking methods and failed
- E Cigarettes do provide a level of nicotine similar to that provided by smoking regular cigarettes
- Electronic cigarettes do work for everyone, but most people find that e cigs are helpful in quitting or at least in reducing nicotine intake and the number of regular cigarettes smoked
- There are many different types of electronic cigarettes, flavours and nicotine strengths available, and smokers may need to try a few different options before they find an e cigarette, flavour and strength they like and that works for them
- Although very similar, using an e cigarette is not completely the same as smoking a tobacco cigarette, and it may take time to learn how best to use an electronic cigarette by experimenting with shorter and longer puffs
- It is possible that in the future some health risks from the use of e cigarettes might still emerge, however at worst, any health risks will almost certainly be only a small fraction of the health risks of tobacco smoking. The reason for this is that e cigarettes do not cause cancer, lung or heart disease as they do not burn carcinogenic chemicals that are found in tobacco smoking
- Quit smoking practitioners should offer electronic cigarette users the same behavioural supports as smokers trying to quit using conventional methods. This support should increase e cigs users success rates in the same way that it increases success rates in smokers using other nicotine replacement methods
- If an electronic cigarette user contacts a stop smoking organisation requesting the use of an additional nicotine replacement therapy, they should be encouraged to use both at the same time if they feel that this would aid their chances of success. They should not be required to stop e cigarette use before nicotine replacement therapy is prescribed