The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has a long history of campaigning on issues relating to tobacco use and control. We want the delivery of smoking cessation support to all smokers to be a core function of all healthcare activity.
In 2016 the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group published Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction. It provides an update on the use of harm reduction in tobacco smoking in relation to all non-tobacco nicotine products, but particularly e-cigarettes. The report recommends:
Smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability, and social inequality in health, in the UK. In 2016 it was estimated that 15.5% of adults in England smoke and smoking causes 79,000 preventable deaths every year.
Smoking is estimated to cost the NHS £2.5 billion a year as smokers are more likely to see their GP or be admitted to hospital. The cost to the wider economy is estimated to be £9.4 billion a year, including the cost of absence and illness from work and lost earnings.
The use of e-cigarettes is increasing. In 2016, 5.6% of people in Great Britain said they used e-cigarettes, up from around 4% in 2015. Some 12.1% of users were ex-smokers, and 13.7% were current smokers. While they are probably more hazardous than nicotine replacement therapy, the harm is unlikely to exceed 5% of that from smoking tobacco.