MPs to investigate safety of e-cigarettes

MPs are to examine the safety of e-cigarettes, including their effectiveness as a stop smoking tool.

The House of Commons science and technology committee has launched an enquiry on e-cigarettes and is calling for evidence on the health, regulation and financial implications of the devices.

Former health minister Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, who chairs the committee, said: ‘Almost 3m people in the UK now use e-cigarettes, but there are still significant gaps in the research guiding their regulation and sale. They are seen by some as valuable tools that will reduce the number of people smoking ‘conventional’ cigarettes, and seen by others as "re-normalising" smoking for the younger generation.

‘We want to understand where the gaps are in the evidence base, the impact of the regulations, and the implications of this growing industry on NHS costs and the UK's public finances.’

Impact of e-cigarettes

As part of the enquiry the committee will look at the impact of e-cigarettes on health both in themselves and in relation to smoking cigarettes. It will also look at the benefits and risks of e-cigarettes as a ‘stop smoking’ tool and whether any approaches are needed to tackle e-cigarette addiction.

Last year guidance from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) advised GPs to promote e-cigarettes ‘as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking’ following a review of the available evidence. The RCP concluded that e-cigarettes were not a gateway to smoking and do not result in the normalisation of smoking.

The deadline for submitting evidence to the enquiry is 8 December and full details are here.

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