The British Medical Journal, known simply as The BMJ has put a video on You Tube entitled ‘Quick tips: e-cigarettes and smoking cessation from BMJ Learning’ – this BJM advice is mainly intended for a health care professional audience however it is presented in a straightforward, non-technical manner.
Unfortunately the sound volume is a little low on the video so you may need to crank your speakers up a little bit, to clearly hear their pearls of wisdom…
The BMJ advice on e-cigs is considered and well balanced, much of what is said will be reassuring to anyone using or considering using e-cigs. I will attempt to paraphrase some of their general message (but still recommend watching their video, above)…
- It depends on the way that you use an e-cig for what Nicotine level you achieve… that’s a bit like ordinary cigarettes.
- There has been an extraordinary rise in the use of ecigs.
- There is no current evidence of any gateway effect.
- There is no extra risks seen with using e-cigs at the same time as conventional cigarettes.
- There have not been any significant adverse reactions to ecig use, the known side-effects of throat and mouth irritation are normally self-limiting.
- It may be that the addictiveness of Nicotine is lower in ecigs than tobacco smoking.
- Ecigs have been shown to reduce the urge to smoke.
- It seems that ecigs should be of benefit to people in stopping smoking especially when given support.
- Stop smoking services are allowed to support a smoker who is using ecigs during a quit attempt although they can’t prescribe them or recommend any particular ecig.
- Ecigs can be used alongside NRT during an attempt to quit smoking.
- GP’s should recommend firstly trying the regulated NRT treatments to smokers but can support smokers who are using ecigs, especially where NRT has failed.
To Be Clear
I want to be absolutely clear, the list above is my understanding of (some of) what is said in the BMJ You Tube video – it is not a chapter & verse transcription, by any means. I recommend you watch the video yourself to draw your own conclusions.
The video also recommends visiting the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) website to view their E-cigarette briefing document, of which NCSCT says “Written by leading academics and clinicians this briefing represents the most comprehensive and current summary of the available evidence on e-cigarettes.” The pdf has an ‘Executive summary’ at the beginning followed by a more detailed explanation for those who have the time to study it, click here to open the pdf file.
I think that it’s greatly encouraging that august bodies such as the BMJ and NCSCT feel able to give this type of advice to medical practitioners, many of whom will not have first-hand knowledge of ecigs. It is natural to expect some caution from the medical profession to a relatively novel product, especially one that has arisen from the consumer product market rather than the established pharmaceutical route – it may be possible that advice like that delivered from the BMJ in this video allows for a more broad minded approach by some doctors and quit smoking advisers in their laudable efforts.
It is worth noting that current ecigs cannot be sold as smoking cessation products (medically regulated products like NRT patches and gums are smoking cessation products) this can cause some confusion. The analogy that I would draw is with pest control… mouse poisons that are sold in this country must be licenced products, an item like a lump hammer cannot be sold as a pest control product – however it would prove an effective (if extremely unpleasant) way to dispatch a mouse.
It is inevitable that eventually ecig products will come to market that have jumped all of the hoops necessary to being a licenced and medically regulated smoking cessation device. Whoever is prepared to invest the vast sums of money needed to achieve this will certainly benefit from the opportunities that arise – such a product would not be forced to comply with the upcoming EU TPD 2% Nicotine restriction, would be exempt from the UK’s 20% VAT and may even be prescribed to smokers on the NHS.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those held by ECigWizard.