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08 February 2018, 12:10 | Violet Powell
NHS patients should be allowed to vape indoors and even in their beds, public health body advises
But in the United Kingdom, research clearly shows that regular use of e-cigarettes among young people who have never smoked remains negligible, less than 1%, and youth smoking continues to decline at an encouraging rate.
It also wants hospitals to be able to sell e-cigarettes, and have areas where people can vape.
Despite the findings, HSE public health adviser Dr Paul Kavanagh told Newstalk that the Government's stance on vaping, as outlined in the Tobacco Free Ireland action plan, is that there is a "lack of research in relation to the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes and a lack of sufficient evidence that they aid with smoking cessation".
Wrongly, thousands of smokers think vaping is just as risky as cigarettes.
Martin Dockerell, PHE tobacco control lead has advised that smoking should be completed banned from hospital grounds - with smoking shelters re-purposed as vaping shelters.
"E-cigarettes have become the most popular quitting aid for smokers in Great Britain with three million regular users", said Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at PHE.
The recommendations come after Public Health England (PHE) carried out an independent review into e-cigarettes and found they contribute to 20,000 people quitting smoking each year.
Researchers found that thousands of smokers "incorrectly" believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking and two in five smokers had not even tried an e-cigarette.
In a radical new move, patients should instead be allowed to vape to help them quit regular smoking, it said.
Public Health England has published a new e-cigarette evidence review that affirms the potentially useful role they can play in helping people to quit smoking.
"It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety".
"It's positive to see that for the first time they've also referenced tobacco heating products (THPs) - and how the available information suggests that these may also be considerably less harmful than traditional cigarettes".
Doctors and nurses can not prescribe e-cigarettes to smokers wanting to quit because none has yet been licensed by the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).
PHE's evidence review comes just a few weeks after a US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on e-cigarettes.
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