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Committee Looks to Revamp Rules on Vaping

The British Parliament is considering a list of findings from its science technology committee, which said among other findings that vaping is not a gateway to normal smoking. A BBC article on Thursday said the committee came up with a number of recommendations that diverge from findings of the NHS.

The BP committee said the NHS has overlooked the benefits of e-cigarettes and suggested doctors write prescriptions to the nicotine-delivery system to help people quit smoking. The committee also recommended the following regarding e-cigarettes:
-Lift a ban on e-cigarettes from buses and trains
-Allow more advertising
-Relax regulations and tax duties to reflect the health benefits
-Review its effects on an annual basis
-Introduce debate on e-cigarettes in public spaces
-License e-cigarettes as medical devices
-End the prohibition of snus, an oral tobacco product banned by the European Union.

The article estimates that 2.9 million UK residents use e-cigarettes and about ⅙ of those use the product to quit smoking. The committee acknowledged the long-term effects of e-cigarettes were still unknown but said they are far less harmful than normal cigarettes. They said basically that it’s unfair e-cigarettes and cigarettes are classified as the same. There was no “public rationale” for such putting the two in the same category, said the committee head, Norman Lamb. He goes on to say that e-cigarettes could be a tool used by the NHS to help those looking to stop smoking.

The BBC story said studies throughout the United Kingdom found conflicting data about e-cigarettes. A pair from Scotland and Wales found that vaping may be a gateway to normal cigarette use while a study of inmates on the Isle of Man concluded e-cigarettes had helped them quit smoking and become more relaxed. However, more research is needed as a result of early studies that indicated e-cigarettes have a negative effect on lung cells in the lab, the article says.

UK politicians agreed e-cigarettes are not as harmful as smoking. Public Health England, an autonomous agency with the country’s Department of Health, said e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than normal cigarettes. The BBC article quotes several sources agreeing that e-cigarettes are indeed a safer alternative to normal smoking and deserve to have fewer restrictions. One professor said loosening regulation could be difficult despite the committee finding and acknowledges there is still plenty of resistance to e-cigarettes in the public. The article lists comments from people who are skeptical of e-cigarettes.

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