Earlier this year, the Royal College of Physicians published their findings that e-cigarettes are considered 95% better for a person’s health than traditional cigarettes.
This announcement was met with great support by those within the health industry, who have seen the devastating effects of lung cancer throughout their career, as well as those who have found vaping to be an excellent smoking cessation device.
Now, the Royal College of General Practitioners has added more clout to the argument that the benefits of vaping far outweigh the negatives. In relation to improving the health of the nation, the organisation has released a report imploring GPs to take ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) seriously as a method of quitting cigarettes.
Over 100,000 people die every year in the UK due to smoking, and after years of failed schemes, patches, gums and inhalers – the medical community are starting to see the benefits of the vaping revolution.
‘Wide-reaching, low-cost intervention’
The strongest argument used by those who decry the use of electronic cigarettes is that the devices could be seen as a gateway for non-smokers, who would later move to traditional cigarettes.
Not only has the RCP report quashed this belief in its April publication, but now the RCGP has supported that same viewpoint by stating that ENDS offer a “wide-reaching, low-cost intervention to reduce smoking” and that despite needing further research into long-term effects, “the benefits of ENDS in assisting cessation should not be deferred while waiting for the publication of this research”.
Figures provided by the most recent surveys have found that most of those who smoke e-cigs are ex-smokers, and while 4% of children who have never smoked traditional cigarettes have tried vaping, regular use was limited to only those children who had smoked on a regular basis previously.
Other criticisms of vaping have included the influence of passive contamination from vapers, but the RCGP has been unable to identify any potential dangers – an issue worthy of note, considering that a traditional cigarette contains up to 7000 different chemicals, 70 of which are carcinogenic. Meanwhile, only 42 chemicals have been identified in e-liquid, with no confirmed carcinogens found, although research continues.
Vaping recommendations for GPs
The report, written by Dr Richard Roope, RCGP and Cancer Research UK Clinical Champion for Cancer, has made several recommendations for GPs practicing in the UK, which are as follows:
1) GPs provide advice on the relative risks of smoking and e-cigarette use, and provide effective referral routes into stop smoking services.
2) GPs engage actively with smokers who want to quit with the help of e-cigarettes.
3) Where a patient wants to quit smoking, and has not succeeded with other options, GPs should recommend and support the use of ENDS.
4) GPs recognise that ENDS offer a wide-reaching, low-cost intervention to reduce smoking (especially deprived groups in society and those with poor mental health, both having elevated rates of smoking).
5) All GPs encourage smokers who want to use e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking to seek the support of local stop-smoking services.
As more and more smokers turn to vaping, campaigners hope that tobacco companies will acknowledge the social shift and support the practice of vaping, rather than lobby against it – ultimately leading to a smoke-free, healthier population.