Senior public health expert Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Society for Public Health (UK), has come out swinging to set the record straight about the health impacts of non-tobacco nicotine use. Their conclusion? Tobacco is no more harmful than caffeine. People can significantly improve their health outcomes by switching from smoking to electronic nicotine delivery systems.
Over 100,000 people die from smoking-related disease every year in the UK. While we have made good progress to reduce smoking rates, 1 in 5 of us still does. Most people smoke through habit and to get their nicotine hit. Clearly we would rather people didn’t smoke, but in line with NICE guidance on reducing the harm from tobacco, using safer forms of nicotine such as NRT and e-cigarettes are effective in helping people quit. Getting people onto nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public’s health – clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine, but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction.