Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are a safer alternative to smoking concluded a report by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
The authors behind Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction looked at a number of myths around e-cigarettes. The paper concluded that they can be promoted as a healthier alternative to smoking for those looking to cut down or quit, due to absence of harmful substances found in tobacco.
'The growing use of e-cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco smoking has been a topic of great controversy, with much speculation over their potential risks and benefits,' said Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group.
'This report lays to rest almost all of the concerns over these products, and concludes that, with sensible regulation, e-cigarettes have the potential to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes in the UK. Smokers should be reassured that these products can help them quit all tobacco use forever.'
The research found that the possibility of harm from long-term e-cigarette use should not be dismissed but it is likely to be substantially smaller than those from tobacco smoking. There is a need for proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes due to the inhalation of ingredients other than nicotine, but that regulation should be balanced to ensure product safety and availibility of e-cigarettes.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH said: “The RCP report has looked at the evidence and it is clear that it is the smoke in tobacco not the nicotine that makes cigarettes so deadly. E-cigarette vapour does not contain smoke, which is why vaping is much less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Smokers should be reassured that switching to vaping is a positive and sensible life choice, which can help them quit smoking.'
The report also revealed that e-cigarette use is limited to those who are already using or have used tobacco and that e-cigarette use does not normalise smoking. E-cigarettes have also led to a large number of successful quit attempts.
This research corroborates prior research from Public Health England and the Royal Society for Public Health that e-cigarettes can be used as a smoking cessation tool.