General practitioner Scotland

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Doctors seek e-cigarette ban in public places

E-cigarettes should not be used in enclosed public places or sold to under-18s, GPs in Scotland have warned.

ecigaretteDoctors at the BMA Scottish local medical committees conference in Clydebank welcomed the decision by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) to regulate e-cigarettes as a medicine, but said more needed to be done.

They called on the Scottish government to include the devices under products banned for use in enclosed public places, and said they should be displayed for sale only alongside other nicotine-replacement therapies.

Scottish public health minister Michael Matheson has already said he wanted to see action to limit advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes, and that the case for restricting e-cigarette sales to young people ‘made sense’.

Tayside GP Andrew Thomson said the safety and protection of the public was the priority in the use of nicotine-containing products, and that the use of e-cigarettes must be treated in the same way.

Unregulated and available

He said: ‘If they are a genuine tool to be used in helping smokers quit then they should be treated and regulated as such. 

‘We are calling on the Scottish government to maintain a consistent approach in the image of smoking and extend the ban on smoking in enclosed public places to cover e-cigarettes.

‘It is not right that we have a situation where primary school children have access to an addictive, unlicensed and unregulated product. 

‘We must not return to the days where nicotine-containing products are glamourised and normalised.’

Lanarkshire GP Colette Maule said there should be more research looking at the efficacy and implications of e-cigarettes.

Quitting aid?

She said: ‘We welcomed the decision by the MHRA to regulate all nicotine-containing products, including e-cigarettes.

‘It is really important that we find out if the hand-to-mouth use of e-cigarettes either breaks or reinforces smoking behaviours. 

‘We need to know if e-cigarettes actually help smokers to quit.’

A spokesperson for smokers’ lobby group Forest said: ‘This is a ridiculous decision that says more about the BMA’s desire to regulate anything it can’t control.

‘There is no evidence that justifies a ban on e-cigarettes in public places.

‘If the BMA had a genuine interest in public health they would welcome e-cigs as a useful alternative to tobacco.’

The story so far

Watch the webcast of the BMA Scottish local medical committees conference