Washington D.C.: Electronic cigarettes have the potential to contribute to reducing death and disability caused by Britain's biggest killer, according to experts.
Reviewing a new report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) on the role of e-cigarettes in tobacco harm reduction, Professor John Britton and colleagues argue that e-cigarettes and other non-tobacco nicotine products "offer the potential to radically reduce harm from smoking in our society. This is an opportunity that should be managed, and taken."
They explain that, despite declining prevalence over recent decades, there are still nearly nine million smokers in the UK - a high proportion of whom are from among the most disadvantaged in our society - and smoking is still the largest avoidable cause of premature death, disability and social inequalities in health in the UK.
However, they point out that, even at the doses absorbed from cigarettes, nicotine causes little if any harm. It is the carcinogens, carbon monoxide and thousands of other toxins in tobacco smoke that kill. This means that health harms from smoking can be avoided by substituting cigarettes with a less toxic source of nicotine.
"E-cigarettes represent an important means to reduce the harm to individuals and society from tobacco use," they concluded. "They should continue to be supported by government and promoted as a tobacco harm reduction strategy." The study is published in The BMJ....