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

I suspect my secretary and I represent a cross-over trial on this one.

I used to smoke about twelve cigarettes a day, my secretary forty.

We both changed to electronic cigarettes. Neither of us has smoked again, though probably imbibing more nicotine than ever before. Extremely significantly, both of us suffered the inconvenience of a flat battery, bought traditional cigarettes and found them unpalatable.

Every year I cycle 56 miles from London to Brighton and run 10 kilometres round London. My times crept up every year, as one might expect with aging, but dropped after the change to electronic cigarettes.

My secretary has reported a huge jump in disposable income, and calculated she has over the course of her lifetime spent a quarter of a million pounds on smoking, out of taxed income.

I don't think anyone could think of a more dangerous way of absorbing nicotine through the lungs than smoking. Vaping more or less has to be safer in anyone's book and on the basis our experience seems to be associated with improved fitness and, crucially, without the usual relapse into smoking or a combination of continued smoking and alternative nicotine provision.

Competing interests: I use electronic cigarettes, but have no shares in the company that makes them.

25 June 2013
James Barrett
West London Mental Health NHS Trust
179-183 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8QZ