A committee of MPs have claimed that aspects of the regulatory system for e-cigarettes are ‘holding back’ their use as a stop smoking therapy.
The science and technology committee’s report on e-cigarettes highlighted how some smokers might not be getting the message that switching to e-cigarettes from conventional cigarettes has relative health benefits due to a ban on making these claims.
They have called on the Government and the MHRA to ‘review all regulatory anomalies’ and publish a plan to address them, as well as to work with the MHRA and e-cigarette industry to streamline approval processes for stop smoking therapies.
The report also criticises NHS England’s lack of ‘central policy’ on e-cigarettes in mental health trusts, after they discovered that a third of mental health facilities in England ban e-cigarettes on their premises, and the organisation’s lack of a dedicated member of staff responsible for implementing the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan.
It states: ‘NHS England should set a clear central NHS policy on e-cigarettes in mental health facilities which establishes a default of allowing e-cigarette use by patients unless an NHS trust can show reasons for not doing so which are demonstrably evidence-based.
‘We also find it very concerning that there is not a dedicated person within NHS England responsible for implementing the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan. NHS England should as a matter of urgency ensure that such a position is created.’
The committee also state that concerns about e-cigarette users going on to smoke conventional cigarettes ‘have not materialised to any significant degree’, while the risk of e-cigarette flavours attracting non-smokers ‘appears to be negligible’.
As a result, they add that there is a need for a ‘wider debate on how e-cigarettes are dealt with in public spaces’.
In the report, the committee writes: ‘A liberalisation of restrictions on e-cigarettes, which provide a popular route for people to stop smoking, would result in non-vapers having to accommodate vapers (for a relatively short period of time).’
The report follows advice from Public Health England earlier this year, which supported the use of vaping for smoking cessation.