Monday 2nd March 2015
The use of e-cigarettes is becoming more and more common amongst those looking to quit smoking. Indeed, you can’t walk down the street without seeing a number of people with them in hand.
A recent survey found that in 2014 fifty percent of current smokers had tried e-cigarettes. The proliferation of these devices has generated a debate amongst medical professionals as to their health implications.
In a recent health committee meeting which I convened on the issue one witness said: “there is huge use of e-cigarettes, yet we do not have good evidence as to their safety.”
Scotland’s health boards have also taken this line with all but NHS Lothian, announcing last week that they will impose a ban on their usage outside hospital grounds.
On the other side of the debate, there are those who believe that while the full implications of e-cigarettes are still to be established, they are certainly a lot safer than inhaling tobacco.
Another witness at the recent health committee meeting, Professor John Britton UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said: “Electronic cigarettes offer a huge potential benefit to public health by helping smokers to shift to an alternative source of nicotine. If all smokers in Britain were to do that, we would be talking about avoiding hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of premature deaths.”
Similarly Ash Scotland – the anti-smoking charity – raised concerns that health boards’ ban on e-cigarette use could discourage smokers from trying an alternative that might help them to move away from tobacco.
With arguments such as those produced by Professor Britton and Ash Scotland, I believe it is only a matter of time before e-cigarettes are included in Scotland’s smoking cessation strategy and ultimately help to make the country a smoke free place to live.