If you want evidence of the mess we have got ourselves into with regard to e-cigarettes you only have to look at today’s newspapers. While the Welsh government is planning to ban e-cigarettes, Public Health England announced today that they should be available on prescription, free on the NHS. How have we got ourselves into the situation where one nation thinks they are the answer to the smoking problem while another clearly believes they are so harmful and damaging they should be made illegal?
I actually think this confusing response reflects the confused response of the medical profession. While one half have welcomed e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco and understood that, as Derek Yach has argued before in his cover piece for Spectator Health, it’s not nicotine that kills people, but smoking, the other half have vehemently opposed them, claiming they *might* be dangerous.
Yet there’s no evidence at all of damage to health from e-cigarettes. On the contrary, there’s now very good evidence that they are helping people give up tobacco. They are now the most popular quit method, more so than conventional nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as gum and patches.
I think many of the doctors who object to e-cigarettes do so because they resent the fact that people are now feeling empowered, have found something that they like and that works for them and don’t need the medical profession to use. Doctors resent the fact that they are no longer in control. But this paternalistic view of the doctor-patient relationship is woefully outdated.
What irritates these reactionary doctors even more is that some people have simply switched to electronic cigarettes and show no intention of giving up. How dare they! But so what if people choose to remain addicted to nicotine from something that happens to look like a cigarette? I wish the medical profession would learn to relax and start viewing things pragmatically. It is profoundly worrying that governments such as the Welsh Assembly are listening to this cohort in the medical profession while ignoring the fact there’s no evidence of harm. Well done to Public Health England for ignoring the hysteria and looking at the evidence instead.