From 2017, a new public health law is expected to come into place banning people in Wales from smoking e-cigarettes in public places. The new regulations, which will prohibit vaping in offices, pubs, restaurants and taxis, have been met with a mixed response by the public. Vapers have claimed that this move is an example of a nanny state gone mad, while critics of e-cigarettes have welcomed the move to banish what is regarded as a dangerous and anti-social habit from communal areas.
E-cigarettes have grown in popularity recently with around 2.6 million adults currently using e-cigarettes in the UK. Although they still contain the addictive substance nicotine, e-cigarettes are free from tobacco, the ingredient most closely associated with cancer, respiratory diseases and many other smoking-related illnesses. For this reason, vaping is thought to be a better alternative to smoking by many - even considered to be a path to quitting by some advocates.
The smoking of E-cigarettes is banned by a number of public transport services already, but now Wales is facing the possibility of a blanket ban in all enclosed spaces from 2017.
Why ban e-cigarettes?
Government ministers in Wales believe e-cigarettes pose a serious risk to children. Those in favour of this new law argue that smoking has been normalised by the popularity of e–cigarette usage in public spaces. This normalisation is thought to have the potential to lead to an increased number of children and young adults taking up vaping and even encourage them to try conventional cigarettes. It is this argument that has led the British Medical Association and Public Health Wales to throw their support behind the move.
Daman Bhamra, Lead Pharmacist at Express Pharmacy, says,
"While tobacco is clearly the most dangerous element of smoking - causing a raft of health problems from lung cancer to coronary heart disease - there are concerns among the healthcare community about the effects of smoking e-cigarettes. They may not be as harmless as the companies selling them would have us believe, and medical experts are only now scratching the surface of the broader health implications."
Problems with e-cigarettes
There are several reported side effects related to e-cigarette vapour including coughs, headaches and sore or dry throats.
Some shorter term and preliminary studies suggest e-cigarettes use may not be damaging to a smoker's lungs. As a result, users may be left with reduced lung function, or an increased vulnerability to infections such as pneumonia or the flu.
These effects are thought to be the result of free radicals within the vapour. Free radicals are atoms and molecules which cause cell and DNA damage, although the amount found in e-cigarettes is considerably lower (1%) compared with tobacco cigarettes.
The major concern with vaping is that studies are yet to be conducted on the effects of long-term e-cigarette use so it is unclear on how it could impact upon health, especially for those who already have decreased lung function due to conditions such as Asthma. Additives and flavours added to vapour have raised some concern in relation to possibly triggering allergic reactions.
E-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking
Pro-vaping lobbies have claimed that the data doesn't support such a complete ban on e-cigarettes. While 45% of those who try tobacco go on to become regular smokers, statistics show that just 10% of vapers take up tobacco-based cigarettes in the long-term. For many, however, this figure is still too high. Despite the increasing use of e-cigarettes by ex-smokers and individuals wishing to quit smoking, an estimated 19% of UK adults still smoke tobacco cigarettes.
The British Medical Association also refutes claims that e-cigarettes can be an effective route to quitting smoking altogether. Indeed, e-cigarettes are not currently recommended by the NHS to help smokers to quit. Instead they advise treatments to reduce your bodies intake and dependency on nicotine.
Express Pharmacy's Daman Bhamra suggests that there is little proof to substantiate claims linking e-cigarettes and smoking cessation, and that the key to quitting is to move away from a cycle of dependence on nicotine:
"We would advise caution when trying any alternative that retains a nicotine element. The data on e-cigarettes is simply too new for us to gain an accurate picture of their long-term impact on smoking habits, but what we can say is that for both established smokers trying to quit and young people trying e-cigarettes for the first time, nicotine still represents a danger due to its addictive properties.
"We would much rather see that cycle broken altogether, be it through willpower or non-nicotine-based smoking cessation medication. This also means that individuals can avoid the other suspected problems with e-cigarettes."
If you want help with stopping smoking, we offer Champix as a prescription medication at Express Pharmacy. Champix has been found to counter the cravings felt by smoking addicts and significantly improve an individual's likelihood of quitting.
For more information on quitting smoking, you can contact Express Pharmacy using a number of different methods. Call us on 0208 123 0703, email firstname.lastname@example.org or try our LiveChat facility.