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British Doctors Advised To Tell Patients Vapor Is ‘Less Harmful' Than Cigarettes

British Doctors Advised To Tell Patients Vapor Is ‘Less Harmful' Than Cigarettes

In new “national guidance” from the National Institute for Health and Care (NICE) in Britain, doctors are being advised to inform patients that e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes. This report has been released amid an ongoing battle over whether or not British hospitals should prescribe vapor products as a tool to quit the use of combustible cigarettes.

NICE cautioned that vapor products are “not risk-free” and that long-term effects are still being investigated, but that the evidence suggests that vapor is “substantially less harmful to health than smoking.” This is an argument that the vapor industry has been making for years, and Britain’s health care system has long been in agreement with vapor advocates.

NICE Guideline

The official guidelines state that patients interested in using vapor products to stop smoking should be told that vapor is not a licensed medicine, but that they have helped “many people quit.” This advice stops short of declaring that doctors should give vapor products to patients directly, as they have for other nicotine replacement therapies like a patch or gum.

"Many people use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking, said Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE. “The committee considered it likely that they are substantially less harmful than smoking. As a relatively new product, the long-term impact of their short-term use as well as the long-term health impact of their long-term use is still developing.”

One pervasive concern that has been a deterrent for governments attempting to address the regulation of vapor products is a relatively slim amount of information about the health effects, especially in the long term. As vaping has been around for several years now a body of evidence is beginning to come together, but it’s still pretty limited. Leng addressed that in his statement:   

“The committee was concerned that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing. Our guidance, therefore, recommends that healthcare professionals help people make informed decisions on their use."

British Vapor Support

The U.K.’s government has one of the most vape-friendly agendas on the planet, save for perhaps New Zealand, and past statements have frequently come out in support of vapor advocates.

Recently, the British Medical Association has come out in support of using vapor products as a cessation method in February, after years of skepticism. Their support follows the National Health Services, which has long believed that vapor products are a far safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. With more and more government and private medical bodies getting on board, the pathway for cessation for the average smoker looking to quit by going to the doctors for medical treatment is within reach - overseas, anyway.