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Use of e-cigarettes must be balanced against risks

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E-cigarettes can make a contribution towards the ambition of a tobacco-free society, but the opportunities they present must be balanced against any potential risks associated with their use, according to a new position paper from the BMA guidance.

The report from the BMA board of science says ‘most studies demonstrate a positive relationship between the use of e-cigarettes and smoking cessation’.

It adds that in the absence of long-term studies it is not possible to be certain about the long-term health risks of electronic nicotine delivery systems, but there is a ‘growing consensus that use of e-cigarettes is significantly safer than smoking’, and that they have the potential to reduce the health burden associated with smoking.

The paper reflects on the regulation of these products, highlighting the need for a balanced approach, to ensure that their use doesn’t promote smoking or have harmful effects on users and bystanders. 

The chances of patients quitting with e-cigarettes is  also appears to be improved when they are combined with ‘behavioural support’ services, which are largely commissioned by local authority public health services – and have recently seen some severe cuts.

Read the BMA Board of Science’s report on e-cigarettes

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