Forty percent of U.K. doctors believe that electronic cigarettes should be available only from pharmacies, according to a WalesOnline story quoting a recent poll.
Thirteen percent of doctors believe the devices should be prescription-only, 16 percent think they should not be on the market at all, and 31 percent believe they should be freely available.
These were the findings of a poll of 525 doctors conducted by Doctors.net.uk, an online network for U.K. doctors.
“I think e-cigarettes need to be regulated like a medicine and then be available as a pharmacy-only product,” said Dr James Quekett, a practising GP and director of educational services for Doctors.net.uk.
“This would bring them into line with nicotine replacement products.
“Since e-cigarettes are not currently regulated as medicines; we do not know exactly what is in them apart from nicotine. Therefore, while it might be assumed that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes because they do not contain all the toxic elements of cigarette smoke, we do not know that for a fact, and we cannot advise patients on any long-term health implications.”
Dr Michael Blackmore, a retired GP, added: “E-cigarettes are undoubtedly safer than tobacco in terms of the cancer risk as there are no Benzo(a)pyrenes in the vapour. However, I am less sure about the cardiovascular risk which may be more closely related to nicotine.”
A survey last year of general practitioners (GPs) in the U.K. and Sweden revealed that many incorrectly identify nicotine as one of the most harmful components of cigarette smoke.
The survey findings showed that 40 percent of GPs believe nicotine to be the first or second riskiest component of cigarettes, incorrectly identifying it as more harmful than smoke. Many (44 percent in the U.K. and 56 percent in Sweden) also wrongly believed that nicotine in tobacco products was associated with cancer, while 15 percent in the U.K. and 22 percent in Sweden believed the same for pharmaceutical nicotine.
The results of last year’s survey, which was commissioned by British American Tobacco were published in a Harm Reduction special issue of ‘Drugs & Alcohol Today’, 2013, 13 (issue 2): www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=1745-9265&volume=13&issue=2