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Britain, already at the forefront of promoting vaping as a main way to stop smoking and improve health, is now considering allowing the use of e-cigarettes on public transport. It’s part of a growing movement in the UK to normalise the use of e-cigs and try to get people to finally stop smoking.
The move comes from a parliamentary committee, which investigated vaping as way to help people to stop smoking and said that, if e-cigarette users were not permitted to use their devices while out in public, including on public transport, it could lead them to stop using vape gear and return to smoking.
Committee chairman Norman Lamb said, now that more research had been carried out into the health risks of using e-cigs like the popular Juul pen, it was no longer possible to assume e-cigarettes were the same as deadly tobacco cigarettes — which in the UK alone claim some 100,000 lives per year.
“Smoking remains a national health crisis and the government should be considering innovative ways of reducing the smoking rate,” he said. “E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same. There is no public health rationale for doing so.”
Weapon Against Smoking
Fears that vaping might eventually lead to smoking, with it having been seen as a “gateway” to tobacco use, “have not materialised,” Lamb said. He added that e-cigarettes may be a “key weapon” in the National Health Service’s battle against smoking.
“E-cigarettes are a proven stop-smoking tool and, while uncertainties undoubtedly remain about their long-term health impact, failing to explore the use of e-cigarettes could lead to the continued use of conventional cigarettes,” said Lamb.
“Medically licensed e-cigarettes would make it easier for doctors to discuss and recommend them as a stop-smoking tool to aid those quitting smoking. The approval systems for prescribing these products must be urgently reviewed.”
As part of their report on vaping, British politicians have issued a number of recommendations for the government and health authorities to consider. They include a proposal that the vaping industry review “how approval systems for stop-smoking therapies could be streamlined, should e-cigarette manufacturers put forward a product for medical licensing.”
They also want a public debate about the use of e-cigarettes and how they should be dealt with in public areas, including on buses and trains. This will help to develop solutions, they say, that are based on solid evidence, rather than misunderstanding about the health effects of vaping.
Additionally, current limits on e-liquid strengths — in line with directives from the European Union — should be reviewed, because heavy smokers may be put off using vapes and return to cigarettes if they’re not satisfied with the level of nicotine they’re getting from e-cigarettes. They say a ban on vaping manufacturers advertising the health benefits of vaping compared to smoking should also be reviewed, because it has prevented vaping firms from informing smokers about research that has proven they are a viable alternative.
This should especially be done after the UK leaves the EU next March, because, after Brexit, Britain will no longer be obliged to conform with EU legislation, the politicians said.
The parliamentarians’ report comes after a renewed advisory from Public Health England — the country’s top health body — earlier this year, which found e-cigarettes were 95% less harmful than smoking and that “vaping conveys substantial health benefits.”