Experts believe that e-cigarettes, which are currently banned in a large number of hospital grounds across Scotland, should be allowed.
The popularity of e-cigarettes in the UK has sky-rocketed in recent years as more and more smokers use them as a cessation device. The result of this rise to prominence, however, has often been hindered by those who rebut the peer-reviewed studies that tout the health benefits of vaping as opposed to smoking.
In an article for the Tobacco Journal in November last year, Professor Linda Bauld disputed the relevance of a ban in hospital grounds. Prof. Bauld, of Stirling University, believes that casting similar rules for e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes sends the wrong message to both consumers and the public.
Despite many hospital trusts across England and Scotland lifting the ban on e-cigarettes in 2016, a large number of trusts continued to sanction their use. Those who argue in favour of the ban believe that despite reports suggesting that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, there is not enough long-term research into the practice and that it is still not a practice they wish to see in the grounds of a hospital.
Despite these claims, Professor Bauld, as well as other respected health professionals, feel that banning the use of e-cigarettes reinforces the myth that they are as dangerous as smoking tobacco:
“When people made some of these early policies, it was a bit of wild west out there,” she said. “We need to be shaping these choices based on new evidence.”
Making healthy life choices
As smoking continues to be Scotland’s biggest preventable killer, accounting for one in five deaths each year, the NHS has continually looked for ways to push smokers towards a healthier lifestyle. And as increasing numbers consider vaping bans to be detrimental to the wellbeing of British society, anti-smoking campaigners believe there’s hope for the future:
“We have a duty to help our patients and staff make healthy life choices,” said Dr Stephen Fowlie, discussing Nottingham University Hospitals Trust’s decision to overturn the ban last year.
“We can’t ignore the potential benefits of electronic cigarettes as a nicotine replacement therapy.”
Unfortunately, there are still many detractors from the progress being made. Health experts from Australia, where e-cigarettes are still banned in totality, supplemented Prof. Bauld’s article with an editorial claiming that the vapour produced is still much more dangerous than current research suggests. However, they failed to compare the vapour to smoke exhaled from traditional cigarettes.
Many believe that preventing the proliferation of e-cigarettes fails to achieve anything except depriving smokers of the necessary cessation devices they need to quit. And as anti-vaping activists soldier on, it is clear that the vaping community needs more health professionals such as Professor Bauld to echo their beliefs.
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