In Brief

Should NHS hospitals offer e-cigarettes and vaping lounges?

Public Health England suggests initiative in bid to reduce number of smokers

Hospitals in England are being advised by Public Health England (PHE) to sell e-cigarettes and let patients vape indoors - advice that has met with some resistance.

Joyce Robins, of campaign group Patient Concern, told The Times that it was a bad idea to use up much-needed spaces in hospitals to create vaping areas. “Every hospital I have been in there is not an inch to spare, with people lying in corridors,” she said. 

But PHE bosses insist smokers trying to quit should be encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes, and given the option of buying the equipment in hospitals. The agency is urging hospitals to replace smoking shelters with vaping lounges, and says patients in single rooms should be allowed to vape in bed, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The recommendations follow the publication of the PHE’s latest independent review into the evidence surrounding e-cigarettes. The study - by experts from King’s College London, the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, the University of Stirling, and Cancer Research UK - found that vaping poses a far smaller risk to smokers’ health than cigarettes.

The researchers estimate that 20,000 smokers who take up e-cigarettes are quitting the habit each year, Sky News reports. However, “the number of e-cigarette users has plateaued at just under three million people in the UK”, the website says.

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