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Smokefree Scotland

NHS Scotland declares vaping to be “less harmful” and sees it helping the country to become smoke-free.

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NHS Scotland stated it wanted to bring clarity to the vape debate, and declared vaping to be “less harmful”. It identified that there was confusion surrounding the harms and benefits, and believes that electronic cigarettes can help the country to become smoke-free. The announcement accompanied the release of a study by academics from the University of Edinburgh and NHS Scotland.

NHS Scotland’s consensus statement has been signed by

  • ASH Scotland
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
  • Chief Medical Officer for Scotland
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Faculty of Public Health
  • NHS Ayrshire and Arran
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • NHS Lothian
  • NHS Tayside
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland
  • Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy
  • Scottish Consultants in Dental Health
  • Scottish Thoracic Society
  • UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Stirling

It contains two key messages:

  1. To smokers we say: whether or not you use e-cigarettes, try stopping smoking for the sake of your health and wellbeing and those around you. There is lots of help at hand to help you quit. NHS Scotland stop smoking services are free and are here to help you do that. See
  2. To health professionals we say: when smokers come to you, advise them about the different ways they can quit and which are most effective. Be clear with them that expert support and medicinal treatments* have the strongest evidence base to help people stop smoking. Do not turn anybody away because they choose to use e-cigarettes.

NHS Health Scotland’s director of public health science, Dr Andrew Fraser said: “E-cigarettes have been around for a number of years now and we are learning more and more about them but I think it is safe to say that they are a lot safer than cigarettes. If we are trying to help people make a decision about giving up smoking tobacco then e-cigarettes are a good option to consider."

At the same time, a review was released by academics at the University of Edinburgh in conjunction with NHS Scotland. The Review of ‘Creating a tobacco-free generation: A Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland’ noted the impact of vaping: “The number of quit attempts using NHS smoking cessation services is continuing to fall. However, quit rates have increased.”

Sheila Duffy, ASH Scotland, said: "There is now agreement that vaping e-cigarettes carries less risk than smoking tobacco. Although we still don't know the long-term health effects of vaping, we can be confident that any smoker switching entirely to e-cigarettes will be taking in far fewer cancer-causing chemicals.”

"Tobacco is lethal and I'd encourage anyone who smokes to find a way of quitting that works for them, which could include using e-cigarettes, and to make use of the free NHS stop-smoking support available to help."

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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