E-cigarettes, also known as vapourisers or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), are handheld battery-operated devices which can deliver nicotine containing vapour. These devices can come in a variety of forms, and generally consist of a cartridge containing liquid nicotine (or ‘e-liquid’), an atomiser (heating device) and a mouthpiece. Solutions of e-liquid typically contain nicotine, propylene glycol and/or glycerol, as well as flavourings.
Increasing numbers of smokers are using e-cigarettes, with many people finding them helpful in cutting down or quitting cigarette use. There are clear potential benefits to e-cigarettes in reducing the harms associated with smoking, and consensus that e-cigarette use is likely to be significantly safer than smoking. It remains important, however, that in realising any benefit to health, any potential risks associated with e-cigarette use are minimised.
The BMA Board of science have published a position paper on the regulation of e-cigarettes – aiming to balance the risks and opportunities associated with the use of these devices. In addition, we’ve put together some answers to common questions that doctors and their patients may have about these devices.
Balancing risks and opportunities
Reflecting on the evolving regulatory and policy environment for these devices in the UK, the BMA Board of science has published a new position paper on the regulation of e-cigarettes. This paper sets out what the BMA believes is an appropriate policy response that would minimise potential risks associated with e-cigarette use while maximising their potential to reduce the health burden associated with smoking.
Download the paper