Editorials

Electronic cigarettes and smoking cessation in England

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4819 (Published 13 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4819
  1. John Britton, director
  1. UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK
  1. j.britton{at}outlook.com

Successful quitting through substitution with electronic cigarettes is a likely contributor to the falling prevalence of smoking

Electronic cigarettes, now used by over two million UK smokers,1 are possibly the most disruptive new technology in the nicotine market since the cigarette. Although still controversial, there is a growing consensus among UK health organisations that e-cigarettes, by enabling smokers to consume nicotine without the lethal cocktail of toxins in tobacco smoke, could prevent a substantial proportion of otherwise inevitable premature mortality and morbidity among the nine million smokers in the UK.2 However, there remain many uncertainties over the effects of e-cigarettes on the public health. These include concerns that their availability will reduce smokers’ motivation to quit—by offering an easy and socially acceptable means to consume nicotine when smoking is not allowed—and undermine uptake of smoking cessation services offering evidence based behavioural support and pharmacotherapy.

A study in The BMJ3 explores these concerns, using two sources of information. The researchers reviewed nearly 10 …

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