The Confusion Around Nicotine Needs To Be Tackled

The myths over the alleged dangers of nicotine needs to be addressed so more smokers can quit lit tobacco says a leading UK health organization.

The report may be a couple of years old but is extremely topical given the current anti all things nicotine over in America and a slow creep here in the UK.

In a nutshell and echoing something I’ve been saying for years the Royal Society for Public Health [RSPH] says:

nicotine is no more harmful than caffeine

And the society is calling for a number of measures to be adopted now to show once and for all nicotine infused e-liquids and e-cigarettes are no more harmful to health than a cup of coffee from a high street chain.

rsph nicotine safe

As I’ve banged on about for a long time now nicotine is not carcinogenic and the RSPH have now publicly stated that whilst tobacco does indeed contain the chemical – it’s the combustion and the 7,000 chemicals that produces that are likely to cause cancer – especially the tar.

They accept nicotine is addictive – as we all know – and say:

… getting hooked on nicotine is one of the prime reasons why people become dependent on cigarettes.

They point out as many of in vaping have stated many many times that if nicotine is acceptable in other replacement therapies – such as gums – sprays and patches – then it should be accepted in none combustible e-cigarettes.

Citing a recent study that found an alarming 90% of the UK population believes [wrongly] that nicotine is harmful the RSPH has called for a 5 point plan of action to educate the public:

  • Introduction of a smoking exclusion zone around pubs, bars and schools – allowing use of e-cigarettes but not allowing cigarette smoking. If smoking was banned from outside pubs and bars 50% of adults would be more likely to use these areas, and roughly one third of smokers would be more likely to use alternatives to cigarettes such as e-cigarettes or NRT;
  • Greater utilisation of e-cigarettes by smoking cessation services; only 3 out of 134 stores selling tobacco also sold NRT products;
  • Mandatory sale of Nicotine Replacement Therapy in shops selling cigarettes. In one study fewer than 0.5% of retailers sold Nicotine Replacement Therapy; almost three quarters of the public (70%) support mandatory sales of such products;
  • Licensing of all purveyors of cigarettes so that Local Authorities can remove the license of any retailers found not to be acting in accordance with tobacco legislation, such as age restrictions and the display ban;
  • Renaming e-cigarettes nicotine sticks or vapourisers to distance them from cigarettes

OK let’s break those points down and despite my upbeat start to this article I’m not wholly convinced…

Exclusion Zones

Nope don’t like that one at all.

I can see where they’re coming from and it’s a nice idea to ban smoking outside pubs and schools. However as I wrote in the piece Stop Herding Vapers Like Cattle Into Vaping and Smoking Zones! The outdoors ‘ban approach’ even to smoking is just plain wrong, hard to police and given it’s outdoors just silly.

Trust me the hardcore smokers I know who are forced to congregate outside a pub wouldn’t suddenly turn to vaping. They’d simply move further down the pavement lol, however I said in the article – it’s fresh air for goodness sake and there’s probably more harmful substances in a typical town centre air sample than a few smokers stood outside a bar.

Sure it’s not nice to have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get a pint – but get over it! It might seem strange me standing up for smokers but I’m all for freedom of choice…they know the risks!

More Stores And Clinics Selling Or Utilizing E-cigarettes

Absolutely – but just look at the flak UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has faced after displaying e-cig products!

Like it or lump it more stores SHOULD be selling e-cigarettes and vaping products however until the anti-vape brigade are silenced many shops will face a backlash from the uneducated ignorant hoardes of the ‘ban it’ brigade…shame on them.

And whilst of course I’d like to see more NHS funded stop smoking clinics use e-cigs as a way to help folks off lit tobacco – the staff need to be educated by the industry so the correct kit and nicotine levels are given.

And as I’ve said in the piece No…E-Cigarettes Should Not Be Available On Prescription and Here’s Why – the main reason many smokers quit via vaping is because of one word ‘empowerment’.

In other words the smoker looking to quit has more of a vested interest in quitting the cancer sticks IF they actually purchase the equipment rather than have it prescribed. I’m not saying free kits shouldn’t be given out – just that someone spending their hard earned cash has a much better incentive…see the article mentioned for more info 😉

Mandatory Sale Of NRT

Nope…don’t like this one either lol.

My argument is simple – sure I like the idea of all shops selling lit tobacco products to stock all things vape – however making it a legal requirement stinks of Big Brother.

What’s next Government approved shops like you see in some countries? It should be down to the individual shopkeeper or owner to decide what he or she sells and not some Government of health bureaucrat.

However educating the retail market on the popularity and sales potential of vaping products is a better idea and let them decide if they stock or not…given the rise and projected rise in sales of all things vape they’d be daft not to 😉

Licensing

Curious phrasing in this one as in they mention tobacco but not e-cigarettes.

Anyway I thought trading standards policed underage sales and I feel sure any form of licensing would involve a ‘fee’ just adding to the already tight margins on our high streets.

Renaming E-Cigarettes

It IS unfortunate the name e-cigarette has stuck but renaming just feels plain daft.

Indeed many people I know describe whatever I have in my hand as a ‘vape’ which seems to be acceptable and being used far more.

encourage smokers to vape

Renaming them ‘nicotine sticks’ is laughable as is ‘vapourizers’ given that’s usually a separate part of the vape – the bit that turns the liquid into vapour if any health professionals are reading lol.

Why not call them ‘vapour boxes’…the list goes on…however I do see where they’re coming from.

Final Thoughts

In summing up the call to action Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH said:

Over 100,000 people die from smoking-related disease every year in the UK. While we have made good progress to reduce smoking rates, 1 in 5 of us still does.

Most people smoke through habit and to get their nicotine hit. Clearly we would rather people didn’t smoke, but in line with NICE guidance on reducing the harm from tobacco, using safer forms of nicotine such as NRT and e-cigarettes are effective in helping people quit.

Getting people onto nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public’s health – clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine, but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction.

Wise words indeed and I say again it’s fantastic to see a UK health organization taking such a refreshing pragmatic approach to the issue and I applaud its stand. It might look as if I’m not 100% behind this report especially as I haven’t really agreed with any of the calls to action the RCHP has made.

The key here is not only to get the debate into the mainstream – sensibly – but to actually debate the issues raised.

And of course the fact such a well-respected organization is trying to blow away the myths that nicotine is harmful to vapers has to be welcomed.

One thing is clear and compared to the hysteria over in the states – once again here in the UK influential and respected health organizations are backing vaping as a much much safer alternative to smoking and that has to be welcomed.

I keep saying it and I’ll say it again…are you watching America?

Neil H
I began vaping over 7 years ago and found it easy to give up a 40 per day roll-up habit! DTL: Lost Vape DNA75C BF - Dead Rabbit SQ - MTL: JacVapour Sandstorm DNA 75 + Savour RTA...Beater set-up Lost Vape DNA 250c and Reload RTA I'm a former journalist and now a sort of writer and author.. I'm an Army veteran - adore dogs and never happier than with a good book on a beach.

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