HealthDoctor Karen

E-cig users are still lighting up

Doctor KarenBy Dr. Karen Palmer
Some e-cig users are still smoking
Some e-cig users are still smoking

New research shows that two in three e-cigarette users are also smoking tobacco at the same time. And this research shows that using e-cigarettes may actually increase smokers’ dependence on nicotine.

Without regulation, no medical or pharmaceutical advice is being given alongside the purchase of e-cigarettes, creating the potential for long-term use. The Irish Cancer Society is calling on the Department of Health to regulate e-cigarettes as a medicinal product so that their safety and use can be monitored.

Information gained from a poll of 1,150 adults shows the popularity of e-cigarettes is continuing to grow, with 210,000 Irish users, despite the lack of any oversight by the Department of Health.

“This survey shows that e-cigarettes are not a quitting aid as some people believe,” says Kathleen O’Meara, of the Irish Cancer Society. “E-cigs are becoming an increasingly popular choice for smokers looking for a healthier lifestyle and to save money. But there are better, more proven ways to quit smoking than devices that still have no regulations here.”

A concerning fact highlighted was that five per cent of smokers used e-cigarettes before they started smoking. It reflects the fear that they are being used as a gateway product to tobacco. Rather than being an aid to quitting, it could be considered an initiator to smoking.

The use of e-cigarettes can not be recommended without guarantees on their long-term safety. In the absence of proven safety and efficacy, the Department of Health needs to regulate e-cigarettes as a medicinal product similar to other nicotine replacement therapies.

“More than two-thirds of those surveyed agree that the sale of these devices should be banned to minors. A similar amount of people agree that not enough is known about the side-effects of using e-cigarettes,” says Kathlee.

The survey also showed that 53 per cent of people believe e-cigarettes should be included in the workplace smoking ban with 20 per cent disagreeing.

“The majority of e-cig users are smokers looking to cut down or quit,” says Kathleen. “The Irish Cancer Society recommends that smokers quit immediately and permanently. If e-cigarettes are to be considered a quitting aid, they need to be regulated by the Department of Health. We are calling for them to be designated as a medicinal device in the same way nicotine patches and gum are now.

“Austria, Sweden and Denmark have all introduced legislation making nicotine-containing e-cigarettes medicinal products.

“Nicotine is addictive and giving up is tough. There are more effective treatments that have been proven to increase your chances of quitting up to four times.”