Among growing evidence that the United Kingdom is leaning towards recognizing e-cigarettes as an important smoking cessation tool, Scotland’s National Health Service (NHS) has wisely published guidance on how these vaporizers can be used to help smokers kick their nasty habit.

NHS logoIn the past, it is believed some smoking cessation services in Scotland simply turned away smokers wanting to use e-cigarettes but according to the new National Health Service guidance, these people should not be told to stop if there is even the smallest risk they might go back to smoking analog cigarettes.

Despite this semi-support, NHS Scotland still advises that a smoker’s best chance of giving up is to use nicotine replacement therapies such as gum, lozenges, inhalers or patches under the supervision of a GP, as opposed to electronic cigarettes.

‘There is a risk that maybe if people can’t access the brand of e-cigarettes they use [or are advised they are not safe to use], it might be easier just to buy ordinary cigarettes and that would be them re-hooked,’ Fiona Moore, public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland, declared. ‘Therefore users of unlicensed products should not be advised to discontinue use of such products if it risks relapse to smoking.’

Recently published number showed only 103,431 registered attempts to quit smoking using official NHS services, 13% less than the previous year. The collected data indicated the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes partially explained the massive decrease in NHS services usage, so not including them in the guidance meant missing out on the extra benefits they offer.

Despite the fact that there are some valid concerns over whether or not e-cigarettes are 100% safe, there is little suspicion that they are less harmful than traditional tobacco products. In fact, the NHS itself estimates that puffing on such a device is somewhere in the order of 1,000 times less perilous than smoking.

Fiona Moore added that now people using ecigs who are unwilling to substitute them for other smoking cessation products would only be encouraged to try other services as well, in the hope of eventually coming quitting vaping too. While the NHS recognizes these devices’ potential to keep some people off traditional tobacco, its ultimate purpose remains to remove nicotine dependence entirely. ‘There is a risk that maybe if people can’t access the brand of e-cigarettes they use, it might be easier just to buy ordinary cigarettes and that would be them re-hooked,’ Moore said. The good news is that e-cigarettes allow users to gradually decrease the nicotine concentration inside their vaporizers until reaching 0%.

Commenting on the new advice in an editorial, one of the Scotsman’s leader writers observed: ‘At last, after months of nonsensical opposition from various agencies and experts charged with improving the nation’s health, some common sense seems to be creeping into the debate.’