Lawmakers want British vaping rules relaxed to help smokers quit

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The Department of Health and Social Care estimates e-cigarettes contribute to between 16,000 and 22,000 people successfully quitting smoking each year "who would not otherwise have done so had they used nicotine replacement therapies or willpower alone".

Specifically, the report recommended that the NHS set a policy allowing mental health facilities to allow e-cigarettes and noted that there is evidence they are an effective tool in getting people to stop smoking tobacco.

However chairman of the STC Norman Lamb said that current policy and regulations do not "sufficiently reflect" the lesser harm posed by e-cigarettes than their traditional alternatives.

- Further it should support a long-term research programme overseen by Public Health England and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment with an online hub making evidence available to the public and health professionals. A Cochrane Review found that 18,000 people in England may have given up smoking in 2015 thanks to e-cigarettes.

The charity Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the committee's findings and said allowing e-cigarettes to be prescribed by doctors could be particularly important to people on low incomes and those with high levels of addiction.

In fact, to encourage smokers to switch to vaping, Public Health England recommends e-cigarettes should not be treated the same as regular cigarettes when it comes to workplaces devising smoking policies.

"E-cigarettes have already helped many smokers to quit, but they could help many more.

We will carefully consider the recommendations and evidence surrounding the use of inserts into cigarette packages".

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"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 - which now kill around 79,000 people in England every year". The approval systems for prescribing these products must be urgently reviewed.

- So they could be more harmful than has been said?

The report also called for limits on refill strengths and tank sizes, which may put off heavy smokers looking for a strong nicotine hit, to be reviewed.

But the British lawmakers concluded that the balance clearly favoured vaping over tobacco smoking and it urged greater regulatory leniency to allow advertising of the relative benefits of e-cigarettes.

The report comes days after scientists warned that the perception that e-cigarettes are safe should be treated with caution.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: "E-cigarettes are not without harm but are way safer than the harms of tobacco".

"It is therefore extraordinary that one-third of mental health trusts ban the use of e-cigarettes completely, while three-quarters of NHS trusts are mistakenly concerned about "second-hand" e-cigarette vapour".