New Survey Reveals Most UK Doctors Cautiously Support Ecigs
Lawmakers are not the only ones concerned with the growing electronic cigarette industry. Physicians are also paying close attention to the vaping movement to see how it will impact former smokers that have now transitioned to tobacco-free ecigs. This week, a UK-based network for physicians took a survey to determine how many doctors were opposed to patients using ecigs. The results were quite shocking. The overwhelming majority of doctors responded that they were cautiously supportive of patients using ecigs. However, they did have some concerns about the way in which they are currently sold.
Currently, UK vapers can purchase ecigs online or in various retail locations. However, two out of every five doctors would like to see ecig sales limited to pharmacies. While 14 percent of physicians wanted ecigs restricted to require prescriptions, around 40 percent were agreeable to treating them as over-the-counter products as long as they were sold through pharmacies.
As most would expect, there were a small handful of the physicians that passionately opposed vaping, but only 16 percent want them banned. So how do UK doctors really feel about ecigs? Here’s a quick summary: 40 percent want them limited to pharmacies, 31 percent want them available freely at all locations, and 16 percent want them eliminated completely. The overwhelming majority of doctors are obviously okay with e-cigs having a place in the UK marketplace. However, they do urge public caution.
Dr. James Quekett, a UK General Practitioner said that he believes it would be best if ecigs were treatment as any other nicotine replacement therapy and limited to distribution through pharmacies. While he believes they could be helpful to some smokers, he still has some concerns that prevent him from telling patients they are safe for long-term use. “Since e-cigarettes are not currently regulated as medicines; we do not know exactly what is in them apart from nicotine. Therefore, while it might be assumed that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes because they do not contain all the toxic elements of cigarette smoke, we do not know that for a fact, and we cannot advise patients on any long-term health implications,” he said.
Veteran doctors seem eager to see ecigs move forward if they can potentially reduce the number of UK Smokers. Dr. Michael Blackmore, a retired physician, said that ecigs would be best sold in pharmacies, but he didn’t think they required a prescription at this point because they seem much safer than tobacco, which is freely available. “E-cigarettes are undoubtedly safer than tobacco in terms of cancer risk as there are no Benzo(a)pyrenes in the vapor. However, I am less sure about the cardiovascular risk which may be more closely related to nicotine. Since e-cigarettes are much cheaper than tobacco, people may be tempted to actually increase daily consumption of nicotine and this could heighten the risk of cardiovascular problems. I would, therefore, like to see e-cigarettes available as over the counter products in pharmacies until their safety is better established.”
Right now, ecigs can be purchased at hundreds of UK retail locations ranging from convenience stores to vape shops. However, that could change in the future because the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency will being regulating ecigs as medications starting in 2016. Most physicians apparently agree with this approach to insuring ecigs are helpful to smokers without putting them at additional risks.
Are you surprised that doctors were so accepting of electronic cigarettes? What is your physician’s view on vaping?