Nice News For Smokers and Vapers From Government Health Watchdog
It’s the slightest change in wording but coming from the powerful health watchdog NICE the phrase “e-cigarettes are SUBSTANTIALLY safer than smoking” is a major game-changer in how doctors and the NHS as a whole will view vaping and e-cigarettes.
NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and they oversee all new medical drugs – procedures and practices and as their website explains they:
…provide national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.
In a nutshell these guys study the evidence around pretty much anything new in the world of health – including this past few years e-cigarettes – and once they are satisfied produce Government backed guidelines on how/if the drug/product or procedure should be used.
Whilst stopping short of suggesting GPs in particular should be ‘actively promoting’ the use of e-cigs the new wording and in particular the use of the phrase ‘substantially safer‘ is a giant step towards the acceptance of e-cigs as safer and obviously a healthier alternative to lit tobacco.
The guidance comes within the new report Stop smoking interventions and services and calls on doctors – health care professionals to encourage everyone they meet that smokes to quit and to offer various means to help.
This includes e-cigarettes and vaping and the new NICE guidelines says:
Advice on e‑cigarettes
These recommendations are for health and social care workers in primary and community settings.
1.5.1 For people who smoke and who are using, or are interested in using, a nicotine-containing e‑cigarette on general sale to quit smoking, explain that:
- although these products are not licensed medicines, they are regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
- many people have found them helpful to quit smoking cigarettes
- people using e‑cigarettes should stop smoking tobacco completely, because any smoking is harmful
- the evidence suggests that e‑cigarettes are substantially less harmful to health than smoking but are not risk free
- the evidence in this area is still developing, including evidence on the long-term health impact. 
NICE didn’t come to these decisions lightly and you can read exactly how they arrived at this set of guidelines under the section Advice on e‑cigarettes.
Vaping Products Are Less Harmful Than Smoking
As you will see they are still not 100% behind the promotion of e-cigarettes – but then again neither is Public Health England and the 95% safer figure looks like it will stick around for a while as NICE and PHE still see there’s more research needed into the long term effects of vaping.
The committee were aware of reports produced by Public Health England (E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products: evidence review) and the Royal College of Physicians (Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction) stating that the constituents of cigarette smoke that harm health are either absent in e‑cigarette vapour or, if present, are mostly at much lower levels.
However, the committee also concluded that because e‑cigarettes have only been widely available for a short period, the evidence on the long-term impact of their short-term use as well as the long-term health impact of their long-term use was still developing.
The committee were concerned that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e‑cigarettes, and as a result continue to smoke, because the evidence is still developing.
Although there is a little evidence on the effectiveness and safety of these as medicinal products, the committee expected that these products are likely to be less harmful than smoking.
Just a quick point here – the vast majority of e-cigarettes and vaping devices are NOT designed to be ‘medicinal products’ – lets make that clear!
OK – NICE is now calling for all health care professionals involved to be given training and kept up to date with the very latest developments in the world of vaping adding:
It was noted that people who smoke often ask healthcare professionals about using e-cigarettes. The guideline recommends that people should be advised on their use.
You can only hope GPs in particular take a moment to study the latest information surrounding the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool and make sure they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Don’t Discourage Smokers From Trying E-Cigarettes
As we’ve seen the number of people using NHS Stop Smoking Services as dwindled since the arrival of e-cigarettes with over 3million vapers able to make the switch without any intervention.
NICE – the NHS and Public Health England still believes smokers turning to vaping have more chance of success IF they get some form of intervention.
Professor Gillian Leng – Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE, said:
Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and death in England.
It is imperative that we give people the support and advice they need to quit.
Many people use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking. The committee considered it likely that they are substantially less harmful than smoking.
As a relatively new product, the long-term impact of their short-term use as well as the long-term health impact of their long-term use is still developing.
The committee was concerned that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing.
Our guidance therefore recommends that healthcare professionals help people make informed decisions on their use.
Whilst Professor John Newton – director of Health Improvement, said:
Despite declining smoking rates, nearly 7 million people in England still smoke.
With most smokers wanting to quit, it’s vital that they get the support they need to give them the best chance of success.
All front line healthcare professionals play a role and this new guidance provides recommendations to inform their advice to patients who smoke.
A quick look at the cost of smoking related diseases to the NHS shows apart from the cost to health and lives it’s costing the beleaguered NHS a fortune with:
- 474,000 NHS hospital admissions in England linked to smoking-related conditions in 2015/2016
- In 2015 around 16% (79,000) of all deaths were due to smoking
You can read the full set of NICE Guidelines HERE.
The Media Seems Quiet On This Positive Vaping Story!
More good news for vaping and smokers desperate to quit and you’d hope the media would be full of it.
However as you might expect so far the only mainstream media that’s picked up this positive news around vaping are a couple of broadsheets – The Times for one and a couple of local newspapers.
If the tabloids will find space for a positive vaping story which can and will affect the health and lives of millions of people in the UK is unclear – I mean let’s face it they have bucketfuls of celebrity dross to get in first.
If they don’t cover this or if they in some way ‘sex it up’ then we really do know they have an anti-vaping agenda…
Answers on a postcard as to why that could be 😉