A new study suggests e-cigarettes could help smokers quit their deadly habit and play a vital role in improving public health. According to the study, e-cigarettes, which have become popular in the past years, could improve the success rate of smokers trying to give up smoking by 60 percent over the people who are using gums or patches as nicotine replacement.
British researchers at the University College London said fresh findings indicated e-cigarettes were helping heavy smokers to quit. But the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have not licensed the devices yet. It is likely doctors now could prescribe the products on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) once they are approved as medicines.
Professor Robert West, the lead researcher of the study stated that electronic cigarettes can play a good role in improving public health because of their extensive appeal and the huge health gains linked to stopping smoking. He suggested that it would be perfectly reasonably for the NHS to consider electric cigarettes as an option.
The research, revealed in the journal Addiction, says that electronic cigarettes help smokers give up habit and can play a significant role in decreasing smoking rates. The findings came from a survey of 5,863 smokers in England who had endeavored to quit smoking without the aid of professional support or prescription medication. Professor West admitted that some “quitters” might wish to continue using e-cigarettes for an indefinite period, and it was not clear if this involved longstanding health risks. However, West also pointed out that the health risk here would be evidently much less than from actual smoking due to the fact that e-cigarettes only contain the vapor contents.
Despite the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, concerns have been expressed that they might continue to normalize smoking, especially among younger individuals. And as they are generally found as less harmful than tobacco, others have raised doubts about the quality of some of the products which are often brought in from other countries.
Alison Cox, UK’s head of tobacco policy at Cancer Research stated that smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of cancer and accounts for more than one in four cancer deaths in the United Kingdom, so helping smokers to quit is a huge contribution to the health of the United Kingdom. Dr. Jamie Brown, Co-author of the study, said that they will carry on monitoring success rates in individuals using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking to see if there are improvements as the devices become more advanced.
Leading electronic cigarette suppliers in Britain welcomed this breakthrough. However, experts said that in Spain regulations on e-cigarettes had led to users returning to tobacco cigarettes, and a latest study in France, on the other hand, where electronic cigarettes are not regulated yet, revealed huge numbers of young people were changing their smoking habit choices to e-cigarettes over from tobacco.
By the end of the year, e-cigarettes could be available on the NHS with at least two companies. And one of them is a subsidiary of British American Tobacco which has already started the process of gaining licenses from the medicines regulator. Nicolites, another British company said its application was “well-advanced.” Some other companies are reportedly also in this license race now.
As e-cigarettes help smokers quit habit, the Committees of Advertising Practice are set to launch a consultation on new rules to cover the devices, used by about a million and a half British people last year. With the framework possibly to be in place by autumn, it will begin later this month, almost two years after the first television adverts for electronic cigarettes.
By Rahad Abir