Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Head To Head

Should electronic cigarettes be as freely available as tobacco cigarettes? No

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3840

Rapid Response:

Re: Should electronic cigarettes be as freely available as tobacco cigarettes? No

Restricting the availability - or taxing and reducing the desirability - of ecigs will result in tens of thousands of UK lung cancer and COPD deaths over the next few decades. It is clear from the hundreds of comments below online newspaper articles that thousands of UK smokers have already given up or drastically reduced their smoking by switching to ecigs. Many, including myself, tried ecigs with no intention of completely quitting smoking, but found they had that effect. The low cost, hundreds of different flavours available and the opportunity to mix ones own liquids to the desired strength are what makes ecigs so attractive as recreational nicotine delivery devices - not medicines. Any interference by the Tobacco Control Industry is unnecessary and will be detrimental, both to ecig users enjoyment and harm reduction. To save further embarrassment, instead of making increasingly absurd and bizarre claims, it should now retire gracefully or stick to kicking the shins of the Tobacco Industry. A problem resistant to hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money, bans and bullying of smokers has been solved by one smoker's moment of inspiration. The Chinese inventor of the ecig should be given the Nobel Prize for medicine. It may only be BP nicotine and disco smoke, but it will change the lives of millions.

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 June 2013
Jonathan H Bagley
Lecturer in Mathematics
University of Manchester
Oxford Road, Manchester