Last year, over 50,000 people in the UK reportedly stopped smoking with the help of e-cigarettes. However, available advice and information over the safety of the product differ extensively.
With the UK medicine watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency investigating two deaths potentially linked to e-cigarettes, two pharmacists debate whether e-cigarettes really are a good method of smoking cessation.
Yes - Ade Williams: We need to use it as a tool to move people away from smoking
I’m a big supporter of vaping as a method of smoking cessation. I know the evidence around e-cigarettes and their safety is constantly being reviewed, but I think we must embrace the evidence we have available now, which is that it’s a safer alternative to smoking.
I think we need to use it as a tool to move people away from smoking, which at my pharmacy we do.
There exist concerns and questions about vaping as we still don’t know a lot about e-cigarettes and there is a lot more research to be done. But I don’t think anything we discover about e-cigarettes in the future is going to be as bad as what we already know about cigarette smoking.
Public Health England has a very positive view on it and has even said that vaping is 95% safer than using cigarettes. A lot of other professional bodies hold similar views. And as healthcare professionals, I believe we need to line up with professional bodies’ advice, and not go against it.
Ade Williams is a superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy an independent healthy living pharmacy in Bristol
No - Al Patel: Vaping just helps people to get hooked onto something else
Vaping has its advantages and disadvantages, but I’m against using e-cigarettes as a form of smoking cessation.
With vaping, the particles from the e-cigarette are microscopic and go deeper into the lungs than cigarette smoke would. These microscopic particles are really hard if not impossible for e-cigarette smokers cough up.
E-cigarettes are causing more issues that we haven't even got data on yet which is a big concern.
When I used to work in clinics in the hospital we would advise people against using vaping as a form of smoking cessation because of all the unknown and potential health risks.
Clearly vaping is very popular across the UK with shops popping up everywhere. Many people are using them and I've seen lots of patients who said that they like the convenience of it.
I don’t believe vaping is helping cigarette smokers quit, vaping just helps people to get hooked onto vaping. It then becomes just as difficult to cut down and give up vaping as giving up cigarette smoking.
Also, If someone goes into a vaping shop to buy a bottle of liquid, the person behind the counter isn't going to encourage the smoker to lower his or her dosage of like a healthcare professional would as they are just interested in sales.
Al Patel is a community pharmacist and owns Lee Pharmacy in Lewisham