Could E-Cigarettes Have Any Medical Uses? 9th September 2015 – Posted in: News – Tags:

In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of users of e-cigarettes, who have turned to them as an aid to help them quit smoking, cut back or just maintain a healthier habit with less risk of harming those around them. Now, medical professionals are campaigning for the regulated use of e-cigarettes in medicine – allowing them to be prescribed by GP’s as a healthy aid to quit smoking. But why could they be useful?

What Can The NHS Do Right Now?

At the moment, the stop smoking programmes run through the NHS are designed to help you quit smoking quickly, and more importantly, for good. The research done by the NHS indicated that you have a better chance of quitting with the help and support of the NHS behind you, and their programmes have never been better. As a part of your quit smoking programme, your GP can currently prescribe you three different types of stop smoking medications, to help you on your way. These come in the form of tablets (Champix and Zyban) which help control and regulate the cravings for nicotine, and Nicotine Replacement Therapies (or NRT) which covers patches, gum, lozenges, micro tabs, inhalers and nasal sprays. All of these aids can be invaluable in helping you quit smoking by giving you reduced doses of nicotine and eventually weaning you off it. So the question is, why can GP’s prescribe patches, gum and nasal sprays, all of which contain nicotine, but not an e-cigarette?

Why Would A Doctor Prescribe Them?

In some of our previous articles we talked about how e-cigarettes can be a very effective tool to help you quit smoking. As a starting point they cut out all of the toxins and contaminants that traditional tobacco cigarettes contain, leaving you with pure vapour while losing none of the nicotine. As a first step they are a fantastic tool, but they can also helpful further down the line. A recently released line of e-liquids boast ‘reduced nicotine’ content, helping you cut back on your nicotine consumption while still smoking as usual. As a side note, one of the most common complaints of anyone trying to quit smoking using patches, nasal sprays or similar methods is that they have nothing to do with their hands. To a smoker, the act of smoking comes with a set of gestures, and when the craving hits those gestures accompany the relief that comes with smoking. When that relief is taken away but the cravings remain, often occupying the hands is helpful in learning to deal with the withdrawal. When you are smoking reduced nicotine e-cigarettes, you are still cutting back gently, which means less cravings, and allowing your hands to keep busy while you do it. In fact, separate studies from 2011 and 2013 show that using e-cigarettes decreases the number of cigarettes consumed by smokers and reduced cigarette cravings.

But Are They Safe?

The jury is still out on that one, but the evidence so far is positive. The harmful substances from tobacco cigarettes aren’t present in e-cigarettes, which makes them a much safer alternative to keeping up a nicotine habit. While there is still research going on into the long-term effects of some of the chemicals in e-cigarettes, the studies are yielding positive results – with no negative side effects yet. The ability to cut out the toxins from tobacco is a huge part of the solution, allowing a safe and easy transition from heavy smoker, to light smoker, to non-smoker.

There is still a lot of debate going on about the regulations that would need to be put in place before e-cigarettes can be a prescribable product, but the Government have hinted that by 2016 this will be laid out and e-cigarettes may well be used by GP’s as a non-smoking tool. We look forward to reading this legislation and bringing you the results.