Many leading figures in the field of e-cigarettes now see the UK as a leading example on how e-cigarettes should be best utilised. Although e-cigarettes in the UK are still relatively new and the long term effects are still being researched, the studies that have come out of the UK are very encouraging.
There is now a consensus among health experts in the UK that e-cigarettes are far safer than cigarettes and government decisions reflect this with the devices increasingly being endorsed as a smoking cessation aid.
Despite the strong evidence that comes out of the UK, health bodies from further afield remain sceptical of e-cigarettes. A prime example is Australia where the Department of Health are remaining stubborn in their prohibition of e-cigarettes, showing disregard to the lack of success from other methods – particularly increased cigarette prices.
This lack of international cohesion on e-cigarettes has even been prevalent within members of the UK. Wales in particular have been less than convinced by e-cigarettes in the past. A few years ago, Wales tried to push through a ban on vaping in indoor places. Although the ban was not passed it showed how views can differ between each country in the UK.
NHS Health Scotland backs vaping
While Scotland may not have tried to impose such measures, governing bodies in the country have previously shown some hesitation. This caused uncertainty for smokers throughout Scotland who were receiving mixed messages regarding vaping and were struggling to make an informed decision on whether to make the switch.
However, on the 21st September NHS Health Scotland released a Consensus statement on e-cigarettes in which the organisation aims “to clarify perceptions about any harms and benefits of using e-cigarettes”.
The consensus came from over 20 organisations including ASH Scotland, Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners as they agreed that “based on the current evidence that vaping e-cigarettes is definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco”.
Scotland are set to release a new tobacco control strategy next year which would assumably include e-cigarettes and according to Professor Linda Bauld, the strategy will focus on helping pregnant women to stop smoking.
It will be interesting to see if the topics overlap as Bauld went on to say “These services offer women the best chance of kicking the habit, including supporting women who have tried other options and may consider using an e-cigarette in their quit attempt.”
Hesitation from Northern Ireland
As the majority of MPs in the UK were speaking out about the positive effects of vaping around the time of Stoptober, Gregory Campbell, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP expressed his concerns as he said:
“Part of the traditional problem with smoking has been that when the number of smokers declined and we got down to about 20 per cent, it was then difficult to make further inroads.
“Similarly, if a third of smokers have still not moved to vaping, again we have the problem that we have reached the hard core of people on whom more work is needed,”
While Campbell’s view is by no means anti-vaping, it is views like these from public figures that can cause uncertainty to smokers considering a switch to vaping. Contrasting views across political figures and parties within the UK can be a contributing factor to the inaccurate perception of e-cigarettes.
This is one of the reasons why the pending MPs inquiry is particularly important. The inquiry will give MPs across different parties the ability to assess findings from The Science and Technology Committee and hopefully agree on a cohesive approach on e-cigarettes in the UK, giving smokers reliable and unbiased information which will allow them to make an informed decision.