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BMA wants ban on indoor e-cigarette smoking

The BMA wants e-cigarette smoking to be banned indoors to avoid undermining existing public non-smoking policies and until side effects are sufficiently mapped.

The doctors’ union has backed international calls, made in a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier this week, for the nicotine replacement therapy product to be treated equally to tobacco cigarettes when it comes to smoking in public places.

The WHO report recommended that all indoor use is banned until there is evidence about a potential harmful impact of nicotine vapours on bystanders and also expressed concern about the potential undermining of anti-smoking policies in countries where indoor cigarette smoking is banned.

BMA board of science deputy chair Ram Moorthy said the WHO report was ‘encouraging’, adding: ‘Tighter controls are needed to ensure their use does not undermine current tobacco control measures and reinforces the normalcy of smoking behaviour.’

‘There is a need for research to understand the health impacts of e-cigarettes on both the user and bystanders, and it is vital that the sale of e-cigarettes is appropriately regulated to ensure they are not sold to minors, and are not aggressively marketed to young people as tobacco was in the past.’

‘Any health claims must be substantiated by robust independent scientific evidence to ensure that the consumer is fully informed regarding potential benefits and risks of e-cigarettes.’

The WHO released its report ahead of important international discussions over the regulation of e-cigarettes due to take place at WHO’s Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Moscow in October.

It comes as a number of leading academics and public health experts had called on the WHO to refrain from taking a stance for reducing the use of e-cigarettes earlier this year. Their sentiments were backed up by MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, a former GP and the chair of the House of Commons Health Committee, who said she would like doctors to be able to recommend e-cigarettes for quitting smoking.

Early research has suggested e-cigarettes is 60% more likely to be effective in helping smokers quit than other traditional nicotine replacement products.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Hazel Drury

    I have never understood why the BMA take it upon themselves to push their nannying status on the public when then purport to represent the majority of us... If only they could do the job they were supposed to of standing up for us rather than disseminating misguided views that many of us do not hold.

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  • Ditto the above.

    The BMA generally do such a poor job of protecting doctors' Ts+Cs that they really should focus on this issue. We have hospital docs with no pay increment, GPs with trivial / sub-expense level pay rises, a profession that is fed up enough to be leaving in droves etc etc

    Instead of sorting this out, the BMA want's to cap on about e-cigarettes...

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  • Headline BMA dissapears up where theres no daylight.

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  • Why, oh why does anyone pay BMA subscriptions so they can employ people to spout this opinionated rubbish?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Whether BMA should mind its own business is one issue.
    The real issue with e-cigarette is while it can be a useful tool for smoking cessation, the real world experience at the moment is many (at least, of mine) patients take it as an alternative to cigarette with no incentive or date to quit all together. One can argue that this is better than nothing. But is this like using methadone to replace heroine permanently ????

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  • Despite their purveryors' claims to the contrary, e-cigarettes clearly are being marketed to young people with sexy, glamorising adverts.

    It's obviously best for smokers to give up. Second best is to convert to e-cigarettes (very much safer; but maintains the addiction and possibly the likelihood that they'll smoke again).

    Worst case scenario is that e-cigarettes will be more dangerous than we realise (we don't know how safe/dangerous they are), and will be a gateway product that get lots of young people addicted to nicotine.

    See and

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