A review from government agency Public Health England into the use of e-cigarettes has suggested they are 95% safer than smoking, and they could in future be offered on NHS prescriptions.1
E-cigarettes contain a battery, an atomiser and a replaceable cartridge containing nicotine, often with an added flavouring. What e-cigarettes don't contain are the damaging chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, which can lead to cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The review found that a rise in e-cigarette use has coincided with a reduction in smoking, and that they are now the most common stop-smoking medication in England. It also found that when e-cigarettes are used as intended, there is no risk of nicotine poisoning. It did, however, acknowledge that there was not data available on their long-term safety.
E-cigarettes are expected to be registered as medical products in 2016, which could see them offered on prescription. As a result, the findings suggest that they be treated differently to tobacco products, and they should not be banned in prisons and hospital trusts.
1 Public Health England. E-cigarettes: a new foundation for evidence-based policy and practice (PDF, 485kb). Summary. August 2015
Public Health England. E-cigarettes: an evidence update (PDF, 2.07Mb). Full Report. August 2015
E-cigarettes could be prescribed by the NHS to help smokers quit, report says. BBC News, August 19 2015
Vaping: e-cigarettes safer than smoking, says Public Health England. The Guardian, August 19 2015
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Health chiefs call for free e-cigarettes on the NHS: Review says 76,000 lives could be saved every year if people switched as it is 95% safer than smoking tobacco. Daily Mail, August 19 2015
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