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Scottish Health Officials Rule Vaping Is ‘Definitely’ Safer Than Smoking

(REUTERS/David Becker)

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The largest health groups in Scotland are backing vaping as a viable way to quit smoking and reduce the risk of developing tobacco related illnesses.

NHS Health Scotland, the country’s national health education and promotion agency, released a consensus statement on electronic cigarettes Thursday in an effort to “clarify” the facts about the devices and their safety profile compared to traditional tobacco. The Scottish government, the British Lung Foundation and more than 20 other health groups joined together to craft the statement, which concludes vaping is “definitely” safer than smoking and should be promoted as an alternative to the cancer-causing habit, reports BBC.

Dr. Andrew Fraser, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said there are too many misconceptions permeating the public debate on vaping, leaving smokers confused about their options. Fraser believes smokers should know the facts about the devices, which he says, “weren’t anything like as dangerous as cigarettes.”

“E-cigarettes have been around for a number of years now and we are learning more and more about them but I think it is safe to say that they are a lot safer than cigarettes,” Fraser told BBC Scotland. “If we are trying to help people make a decision about giving up smoking tobacco then e-cigarettes are a good option to consider.”

A study from Public Health England in 2016 found nearly all of the 2.6 million e-cigarette users in the U.K. are former or current smokers, and roughly 50 percent are actively using the devices to quit. A separate study from the the Royal College of Physicians agreed vaping is healthier than smoking and should be promoted as a harm reduction tool for smokers.

The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the devices as a useful tool to quit smoking and eliminate second-hand risks to the public. The department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to significantly slash the smoking rate and argues maximizing public access to vaping will help achieve this goal.

Health officials in the country hope greater access to e-cigarettes can bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022. The report states the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”

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Tags : scotland
Steve Birr