The science on vaping may be young, but a prominent association of doctors in Britain is convinced: The hi-tech smoking alternative is “much safer” than cigarettes, UK’s Royal College of Physicians now says. The group is even encouraging doctors to urge their nicotine-addicted patients to make the switch.
We’re not sure what to make of a bunch of doctors telling us it’s cool to vape, but after that congressman took a couple of hits during a committee meeting in the U.S. Capitol, it’s beginning to feel almost normal for authority figures to OK vaping. Maybe it’s because most doctors agree that vaping is 95 percent safer than cigarettes, and so it just doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore.
The UK doctors didn’t go quite so far as to hit the vape themselves, but they are assessing whether to start prescribing vaporizers to encourage their smoking patients to make the jump to e-cigarettes.
“Moving forward we would be looking for clear evidence that making e-cigarettes available on prescription as part of a wider smoking cessation scheme is a wise use of both scant National Health Service funds and general practitioner (GP) resources, before the College could get behind it,” Dr Tim Ballard, of the Royal College of GPs told the BBC.
The physicians did take care to remind everyone that vaping is not healthy in itself — it’s not 100 percent better for you than smoking cigarettes, after all. In fact, some doctors are still calling the breadth of research on vaping insufficient to warrant such official boosterism, citing in particular the lack of studies on the long term health impacts.
“We don’t know enough yet about the long-term effects of vaping on people’s health, which is why we need more research,” Prof Simon Capewell, of the Faculty of Public Health, told the BBC.
But the remaining ambiguity is already melting away now that two major British medical groups have endorsed the 95 percent figure. The UK’s National Health Service attributes the deaths of 80,000 Britons annually to cigarettes, so it should come as little surprise that doctors are willing to support even slightly untested measures that could save a lot of those lives.
American doctors have proven a little more hesitant to endorse vaping, despite facing our own national crisis about the number of deaths caused by cigarettes. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in five deaths in the United States are linked to smoking cigarettes — that’s 480,000 Americans every year. U.S. authorities have struggled with the idea that vaping may serve as a “gateway drug” to cigarettes and even other narcotics, even though there is scant evidence of the trend.
Mainstream support may be the key to vaping’s conquest of the cigarette market, and little in the world is as mainstream as anything your doctor (or congressman) recommends.