What do we think about e-cigs?

2013-06-26 15.20.51A combination of a few real life experiences and an interesting twitter exchange has prompted me to try to write something about e-cigarettes.

Will Haydock says he may write something about this too, and if he does it’ll be fascinating to see where he gets to.

For me my thoughts turned to the issue a few weeks ago when I saw a report that suggested that a number of schools had explicitly banned e-cigarettes. Shortly afterwards my son came home from school saying that some of his classmates were experimenting with them in his secondary school.

I knew what I thought.

That it was a good thing that schools were taking action.  That young people using these things can’t be a good thing.

And then I thought again.

And I had to acknowledge that some young people would have started to use real cigarettes at the age of 12 – the Health Related Behaviours in School Age Children report suggests about 1 in 5 15 year olds in England, Scotland and Wales say they first smoked before the age of 13.  And if that’s the case there’s a question of whether e-cigarettes are delaying or even better diverting young people from using tobacco and so are actually reducing the harms.

But then I go past the advert at the top of this post in my local newsagent and I wonder if the way that some e-cigarettes are being promoted might make smoking per se more attractive.

Clive Bates here argues not, and that may be right, but I can’t yet pin down whether young people using these things, seeing the way they’re being marketed ends up being something we need to worry about or not.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “What do we think about e-cigs?

  1. Hi Andrew

    We don’t generally subscribe to the ‘gateway drug’ view anymore. But with e-cigarettes, childen have the opportunity to sample the real thing (i.e. nicotine) before even trying a fag. Nicotine addiction will inevitably follow for many/most of them.

    There’s no available evidence to support e-cigarettes as a useful smoking cessation tool, and the possibility has to be that they will just reinforce the underlying addiction and provide a means for nicotine inhalation in environments where smoking isn’t allowed.


    • Thanks Mike, have you been asked about this by any of the schools you support? It would be interesting to know whether they view e-cigarettes as on a par with tobacco cigarettes in terms of their school policies or if they are taking a different view.

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