That was interesting for sure. I still think that the medical professionals have some way to go however: the first comment from a Dr shows that he doesn't quite have a full understanding of things. Perhaps even the BMA might now have to reconsider their position too.
The main benefit of e-cigarettes, therefore, is that they provide inhalable nicotine in a formulation that mimics the behavioural components of smoking but has relatively little risk. (...) Switching completely from tobacco to e-cigarettes achieves much the same in health terms as does quitting smoking and all nicotine use completely.
Much concern has been expressed that use of e-cigarettes in public, especially in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited, undermines the denormalisation of smoking achieved in recent years and hence promotes smoking. Concerns about renormalisation through use in places where smoking is prohibited assume that e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes look so similar that non-smokers, and particularly children, cannot tell the difference, which is unlikely. E-cigarettes – especially later generation products – clearly look different, and the odourless vapour that they produce is quite different from tobacco smoke.
Despite the controversies, it is clear that e-cigarettes are far less hazardous than is tobacco. With more than a million UK smokers using them to help to cut down or quit smoking, they are proving to be valuable harm reduction and cessation products and could make a substantial contribution to reducing the burden of death, disability and poverty currently caused by tobacco smoking. Health professionals should embrace this potential by encouraging smokers, particularly those disinclined to use licensed nicotine replacement therapies, to try them, and, when possible, to do so in conjunction with existing NHS smoking cessation and harm reduction support. E-cigarettes will save lives, and we should support their use.
The strength of e-cigarettes in health terms probably lies less in their ability to compete as pharmacological therapies than in their consumer acceptability, wide availability, non-medical image and price advantage over cigarettes.
In practice, new users of e-cigarettes are probably most likely to come from the same population of young people who currently experiment with tobacco.
Concerns about renormalisation through use in places where smoking is prohibited assume that e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes look so similar that non-smokers, and particularly children, cannot tell the difference, which is unlikely. E-cigarettes especially later generation products clearly look different, and the odourless vapour that they produce is quite different from tobacco smoke.
There are concerns about sustained dual use in smokers who might otherwise have quit completely and also that continued use of e-cigarettes might make relapse to smoking more likely among those who have quit tobacco completely. Although it is too early to tell whether smokers who quit smoking with e-cigarettes are more likely to relapse than are those who use other methods, no evidence as yet shows that dual use results in reduced quit rates.