UK’s David Cameron Gives E-Cigarettes Ringing Endorsement

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom voiced support for e-cigarettes Wednesday, saying they’re a “legitimate” path for people to quit smoking.

“Certainly as somebody who has been through this battle a number of times, eventually relatively successfully, lots of people find different ways of doing it and certainly for some people e-cigarettes are successful,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in the House of Commons Wednesday.

A conservative member of parliament had asked him to highlight “the role that e-cigarettes can play in helping people to give up tobacco for good.”

“I think we do need to be guided by the experts,” Cameron said. “We should look at the report from Public Health England but it is promising to see that over all, one million people are estimated to have used e-cigarettes to help them quite or have replaced smoking with e-cigarettes completely.”

“So I think we should be making clear that this is a very legitimate path for many people to improve their health and the health of the nation,” he continued.

The study Cameron referred to was commissioned by Public Health England and released in August. The report concluded that while e-cigarettes may not be totally safe, they contain almost none of the chemicals in cigarettes associated with deadly diseases like lung cancer and emphysema.

The report added that there is a substantial body of high-quality evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective tool for getting smokers to kick their habit. The devices, which were only invented in 2007, already have 2.6 million adult users in England.

Public Health England rebutted claims that e-cigarette vapor poses a risk to bystanders, saying the vapor contains negligible amounts of nicotine. One of the report’s recommendations was to treat e-cigarettes differently from regular cigarettes and not ban them in public spaces.

A key challenge identified in the study was the widespread misperception about the safety of e-cigarettes. Almost half of British people are unaware that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco products.

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