Health officials endorse e-cigarettes, contradicting earlier studies

Health officials endorse e-cigarettes, contradicting earlier studies

Group ask for option for doctors to prescribe E-cigarettes to help stop smoking.

Citing a study by Britain’s Department of Health, officials have endorsed e-cigarettes for the first time, says a Reuters report from London.

The study, published on Wednesday backed the use of e-cigarettes as a way quitting tobacco use consumption in normal cigarettes.  E-cigarettes, which let users inhale vapor laced with nicotine, have been gaining popularity in recent years, but most health associations have not been supportive of using them as a stop-smoking aid.

Most fear they will lead to actual tobacco use and the World Health Organization has called for curbs on their use, worrying particularly about their use among teenagers, who might experiment with the devices.

Public Health England, an agency of the Department of Health, published the study and released a statement saying that e-cigarettes are not completely risk free, but just have a fraction of the harmful benefits of cigarette smoking.

The study concluded that most of the harmful chemicals in tobacco are not found in e-cigarettes.  Their best estimate is that they are about 95 percent less harmful.  E-cigarettes do contain nicotine, but the chemicals found in tar of the tobacco smoke is the cause of death for most smokers.

Still, nicotine is an addictive drug, and many worry about it leading to more harmful types of smoking.

British doctors do not have the option to prescribe e-cigarettes to smokers at this time and the group calls for that to change, saying use of e-cigarettes in the United States and Britain are already the most popular method of smoking cessation being used.

A 2014 report by the WHO called for bans on indoor use and sales to minors of e-cigarettes.  Another study from the University of Southern California found teens were more than twice as likely to use conventional tobacco products after trying e-cigarettes as were those who did not experiment with them.

Practically all of the adults in Britain who are currently using e-cigarettes are smokers who are using the devices to try to quit smoking, and only 2 percent of youths were regular users.

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