Last September, Public Health England’s (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie, had urged the National Health Service (NHS) to strive at making Britain effectively smoke-free by 2030. The public health organization, has been striving to encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, as research keeps indicating that the devices are significantly safer than their combustible counterparts.

According to another ONS report, last year alone, 400,000 people gave up smoking in England, which leaves 6.1 million smokers or 14.9% of the population. That’s down from a 15.5% rate in 2016 and 19.8% in 2011.

Based on these data, the PHE has predicted that in five years, only one in 10 English people will smoke, between 8.5% and 11.7%, and that Britain could be a smoke-free society by 2030.

Despite these positive figures, plans are underway to ensure the target is reached. A Daily Mail article has reported that leaked government plans indicate that tobacco companies will be forced to pay the cost of smoking cessation services, instead of the burden of such a cost falling on local health services. Additionally, every cigarette packet will contain a leaflet on how to quit smoking.

Ministers are also planning to crack down on cheap cigarettes found on the black market. The whole plan will be announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock next week, as he unveils a Green Paper looking at how prevention is better than cure.

Very few UK GPs feel comfortable recommending e-cigs to adult smokers


Meanwhile, despite the government’s and PHE’s efforts, misinformation remains rife even in the UK. A recent study has revealed that only 7% of GPs feel confident enough to recommend e-cigarettes to smokers who present themselves to surgery. Martin Cullip, a trustee of the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), points out that more education is needed for doctors.

“This is a common theme I’ve come across before where many GPs believe vaping to be harmful,” he said. “Vaping takes most of the harmful chemicals out – any that are left in there are at very low levels – so you’re delivering the nicotine in a much cleaner form.“There’s no reason why doctors cannot recommend these devices but if they are not aware of the reduction in harm then they’re not going to do that,” added Cullip.

NNA: Progress is not happening fast enough

The NNA points out that that progress surrounding this issue does not seem to be happening fast enough. “It is very disappointing that we should still have to make these arguments on the deficiencies of the health system considering the resounding support for vaping as an option for smokers wishing to switch to safer nicotine delivery by groups such as, and not restricted to, The Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, Cancer Research UK, The Royal Society of Public Health and Action on Smoking and Health.”

“As our trustee pointed out, the lack of understanding amongst GPs is a recurring theme and does not appear to be receding,” said the organization, adding that while GPs certainly understand that smoking is riskier than NRT use, it is worrying that so many still link nicotine directly to cancer. “This may have been an understandable mistake six years ago, but it certainly isn’t now. “

Read Further: NNA

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