Allow vaping in hospitals to help patients quit smoking, say health experts

But in the United Kingdom, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate.

PHE also wants hospitals to be able to sell e-cigarettes and have areas where patients can vape. Their conclusion on e-cigarette safety also finds that based on the available evidence 'e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes'.

"We welcome this latest report from Public Health England which reiterates their view that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking; that accurate information is needed about these new products; and that the evidence does not support that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking, and may in fact be an important tool to help people quitting", said David O'Reilly, group scientific director at British American Tobacco.

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Meanwhile, Government officials should help manufacturers licence e-cigarettes as medical quitting aids.

In an independent review PHE said 20,000 people a year are quitting with the help of e-cigarettes. They wanted, he said, "to maximise the potential benefits, to give every smoker the best chance of quitting but also minimise any risks".

Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead for PHE, said: "We are saying no smoking anywhere on the grounds [of hospitals], no smoking in the smoking shelter - that shelter becomes a vaping shelter".

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Professor John Newton, director for health improvement at Public Health England, said: "Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders". A large number of smokers think it's the nicotine that's the bad thing about traditional cigarettes, so they don't think there's much point in switching nicotine delivery systems. PHE found around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette.

Doctors and nurses can not prescribe e-cigarettes to smokers wanting to quit because none has yet been licensed by the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).

Public Health England has published a new e-cigarette evidence review that affirms the potentially useful role they can play in helping people to quit smoking.

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But that should not stop healthcare professionals talking to smokers about trying e-cigarettes.


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