Until now, the British Medical Association has been standoffish in its approach to vaping. While other major organisations (Cancer Research UK among them) have stepped forward and provided their support for vaping, the BMA has failed to follow.
But as we said, that was until now. They have changed their stance and finally decided to be more positive about vaping. That is huge news, especially when you consider this is the trade union for all UK doctors. That means GPs should now be supportive of people switching from smoking to vaping, instead of limiting their options to other smoking cessation products.
A big change of heart
This huge U-turn is even bigger when you consider that only last year, the BMA was recommending electronic cigarettes should be banned in public. Dr Iain Kennedy of the Public Health Medicine Committee said vaping should be prohibited in public places. He argued there was a lack of evidence on whether long-term vaping was safe. Thankfully for vapers up and down the country, Public Health England decided not to go ahead with such a ban.
The BMA website issued an updated report on e-cigarettes on 29th November. This report said there are “clear potential benefits to e-cigarettes in reducing the harms associated with smoking”. Additionally, it points to a “growing consensus” that vaping is a lot safer than smoking. They are still keen to point out the lack of information focusing on the effects of vaping over the long term, but admit there are only minimal risks associated with short-term vaping.
Further insight from the BMA report
They suggest continual monitoring of the possible effects vaping might have on health, to provide more information on this aspect. Furthermore, they point out the importance of assessing how safe long-term use of flavoured e-liquids is. But again, they admit these flavourings seem to have no impact on the health of those that use them.
Impressive, indeed. When you consider these statements come from an association that previously wanted to ban the use of vaping in public places, it becomes clear how significant the updated stance from the BMA is.
Acknowledging the role of electronic cigarettes used by the young
Another key area of concern was the theory that young people may be tempted to start smoking by vaping first. This has long since been debunked by more than one study, but until now, the BMA was concerned that vaping could be a temptation to lure young children to try smoking.
However, the drop in young smokers that has coincided with the ready availability of e-cigs has contributed to the change of stance. While there is a small proportion of young children who vape, most of those are doing so either as a replacement for smoking, or as a method to help them quit smoking.
A huge step forward
No doubt many vapers will feel vindicated by this news. It will be interesting to see how things develop from here, and how many GPs will recommend vaping as a practical and common-sense alternative to smoking. It is far safer than smoking, is one of the most successful ways to quit for good, and it’s cheaper, too. With so many benefits on offer, and plenty of proof pointing to its safety, it is good to see the BMA has finally joined many other organisations in supporting vaping.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you relieved the British Medical Association has finally seen sense? Where do you see things going now, as a result of this new stance?