The guideline includes evidence-based interventions that should be available to adults who smoke. They are directed at health and social care workers in primary and community settings.
Justifying its decisions, NICE says: “The long-term harms caused by smoking, even in the short term, are well established and are the reason people who smoke are advised to quit. The committee were aware of reports produced by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians stating that the constituents of cigarette smoke that harm health are either absent in e‑cigarette vapour or, if present, are mostly at much lower levels.”
The advice on e‑cigarettes it has given out:
"These recommendations are for health and social care workers in primary and community settings."
1.5.1 For people who smoke and who are using, or are interested in using, a nicotine-containing e‑cigarette on general sale to quit smoking, explain that:
- although these products are not licensed medicines, they are regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
- many people have found them helpful to quit smoking cigarettes
- people using e‑cigarettes should stop smoking tobacco completely, because any smoking is harmful
- the evidence suggests that e‑cigarettes are substantially less harmful to health than smoking but are not risk free
- the evidence in this area is still developing, including evidence on the long-term health impact
Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE, said: "Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and death in England. It is imperative that we give people the support and advice they need to quit. Many people use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking. The committee considered it likely that they are substantially less harmful than smoking.”
"As a relatively new product, the long-term impact of their short-term use as well as the long-term health impact of their long-term use is still developing. The committee was concerned that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing. Our guidance therefore recommends that healthcare professionals help people make informed decisions on their use."
Professor John Newton, director of Health Improvement, said: “Despite declining smoking rates, nearly 7 million people in England still smoke. With most smokers wanting to quit, it’s vital that they get the support they need to give them the best chance of success.”
“All frontline healthcare professionals play a role and this new guidance provides recommendations to inform their advice to patients who smoke.”