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Results of e-cigarette survey fail to sway RPS

Practice The number of non-smokers using e-cigarettes is still "negligible", health charity ASH has revealed, but the RPS maintains that they should not be sold or advertised until licensed

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has refused to soften its stance on e-cigarettes, despite a survey finding "no evidence" that the devices are acting as a gateway to smoking.

The number of smokers or ex-smokers using e-cigarettes had tripled in the last two years, from an estimated 700,000 users in 2012 to 2.1 million in 2014, health charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) revealed yesterday (April 28).

But the RPS said it still thought e-cigarettes should not be sold or advertised in pharmacies until they were licensed by the MHRA in 2016.

"We would like to see a product licensed as soon as possible, due to the ever-increasing popularly of e-cigarettes highlighted by ASH," an RPS spokesperson told C+D.

The RPS says the results of the ASH survey highlight the need for e-cigarettes to be licensed as soon as possible

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The number of non-smokers currently using the devices had remained "negligible" at 0.1 per cent, with only 1 per cent admitting they had ever tried them, according to the charity's survey published to coincide with the close of the Committee of Advertising Practices' consultation on new advertising rules for e-cigarettes.

More than a third of adults believed e-cigarettes were good for public health, while less than a quarter disagreed with this view, according to the online YouGov survey of more than 12,000 people last month.

ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said the research indicated that e-cigarettes were not acting as a "gateway" to encourage non-smokers to take up the habit.

"The dramatic rise in use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking," she said.

More than half of users started with rechargeable devices with prefilled cartridges, compared to a quarter who started smoking e-cigarettes with a tank or reservoir. However, the latter figure increased to 41 per cent among current users, the charity said.

Only a fifth started off using disposable cigarettes, dropping to 8 per cent of current e-cigarette smokers, ASH said.

The most popular reason for using the devices among ex-smokers was to help them to give up smoking entirely, while the most common reason among current smokers was to help them reduce the amount of tobacco they smoked without stopping completely, it added.

The RPS first warned pharmacists in February against advertising and stocking e-cigarettes until they became licensed as medicines. At the time, the RPS director for Scotland Alex MacKinnon said TV and internet advertising for e-cigarettes was "out of control".

Are you stocking e-cigarettes in your pharmacy?
We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Well that said people are exercising personal choice.

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

UNFORTUNATELY much like real cigs it will take deaths wfor anything to change...profit and gain trump health

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