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Here at NNA we we are very lucky to have an incredible group of associates who never cease to amaze us with the things they do in their own spheres to reduce the harms of smoking. This week a major talking point both here and in social media were the guidelines brought out last year by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) and recently promoted, which in short, has recommended that smoking cessation services offer the following advice to people keen to try e-cigarettes, and also those who have tried other methods and failed: 

  • electronic cigarettes can provide some of the nicotine that would have otherwise been obtained from smoking regular cigarettes
  • electronic cigarettes are not a magic cure, but some people find them helpful for quitting, cutting down their nicotine intake and managing temporary abstinence
  • there is a wide range of electronic cigarettes available and clients may need to try various brands, flavours and nicotine dosages before they find a brand that they like
  • electronic cigarette use is not exactly like smoking and users may need to experiment and learn to use them effectively (e.g. longer ‘drags’ are required and a number of short puffs may be needed initially to activate the ‘vapouriser’ and improve nicotine delivery)
  • although some health risks from electronic cigarette use may yet emerge, these are likely to be, at worst, only a small fraction of the risks of smoking. This is because electronic cigarettes do not contain combustion chemicals which cause lung and heart disease and cancer.

Andy McEwen, executive director of NCSCT and NNA associate, described the thinking behind the guidelines as follows:

"Two things struck me about e-cigarettes: 1) they were incredibly popular with smokers, more so than stop smoking medications and the stop smoking services and, 2) it appeared as if smokers who wanted to know more about them were approaching stop smoking services for information and advice.

I simply thought that the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training had a duty to ensure that stop smoking practitioners should be able to give information and advice to smokers based upon the latest evidence."

We think that The NCSCT's non judgmental and pragmatic approach will be a winner. The more routes out of smoking that are offered to more people more of the time, the better for us all; the rejection of e-cigarettes as an option in some quarters is incredibly shortsighted. It is well known that the combination of smoking cessation services and NRT or other pharmacological products has the best chance of success, but that success rates of NRT alone are abysmal. Just imagine what a combination of smoking cessation services and a product which people actually want to use could achieve. 


Please read the full NCSCT briefing here.

And watch Andy talking about e-cigarettes here.