Royal College of Physicians Speak Out: E-Cigarettes Aid in Harm Reduction

urlLast week the Royal College of Physicians released a report that effectively endorsed e-cigarettes as “a harm-reducing alternative to the combustible, tobacco-containing kind,” according to an article on

Points that the RCP made included:

  • large-scale substitution of e-cigarettes, or other non-tobacco nicotine products, for tobacco smoking has the potential to prevent almost all the harm from smoking in society
  • e-cigarette vapor contains a far less extensive range of toxins, and those present are typically at much lower levels, than in tobacco smoke
  • In normal conditions of use, toxin levels in inhaled e-cigarette vapor are probably well below prescribed threshold limit values for occupational exposure, in which case significant long-term harm is unlikely.
  • Some harm from sustained exposure to low levels of toxins over many years may yet emerge, but the magnitude of these risks relative to those of sustained tobacco smoking is likely to be small … although it is not possible to quantify the long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes precisely, the available data suggest that they are unlikely to exceed five percent of those associated with smoked tobacco products, and may well be substantially lower than this figure.
  • Regulation “makes e-cigarettes less easily accessible, less palatable or acceptable, more expensive, less consumer friendly or pharmacologically less effective, or inhibits innovation and development of new and improved products, then it causes harm by perpetuating smoking.”
  • Smokers who use nicotine products as a means of cutting down on smoking are more likely to make quit attempts. Promoting wider use of consumer nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, could therefore substantially increase the number of smokers who quit.
  • e-cigarette use in Britain is, to date, almost entirely restricted to current, past or experimental smokers.

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