Consensus statement on e-cigarettes

Smoking kills. Helping people to stop smoking completely is our priority.
The purpose of this document is to clarify perceptions about any harms and benefits of
using e-cigarettes. It is aimed at both health professionals and the general public.
E-cigarettes have been available for purchase for just over a decade in Scotland. They
have become increasingly popular and many smokers report using them.
There is now agreement based on the current evidence that vaping e-cigarettes is
definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco. Although most e-cigarettes contain
nicotine, which is addictive, vaping carries less risk than smoking tobacco. Thus, it would
be a good thing if smokers used them instead of tobacco.
Using e-cigarettes without stopping smoking (dual use) does not provide health benefits.
Anyone who is using both should be strongly encouraged to stop smoking tobacco as
soon as they can.
To be absolutely clear, e-cigarettes are useful for public health and health service
purposes only as a potential route towards stopping smoking. Access to e-cigarettes
needs to be controlled carefully; they are not products for children or non-smokers.
There is still a lot we do not know about e-cigarettes. They are not risk free, but based
on current evidence, they have a much lower risk than tobacco. We need to carry out
research to understand these risks but in the meantime we need to make the best use
of the situation to reduce tobacco smoking further.
We have two key messages:
1 To smokers we say: whether or not you use e-cigarettes, try stopping smoking for
the sake of your health and wellbeing and those around you. There is lots of help at
hand to help you quit. NHS Scotland stop smoking services are free and are here to
help you do that. See
2 To health professionals we say: when smokers come to you, advise them about
the different ways they can quit and which are most effective. Be clear with them
that expert support and medicinal treatments* have the strongest evidence base to
help people stop smoking. Do not turn anybody away because they choose to use

Created by NHS Health Scotland in collaboration with:
• ASH Scotland
• Cancer Research UK
• Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
• Chief Medical Officer for Scotland
• Directors of Public Health
• Faculty of Public Health
• NHS Ayrshire and Arran
• NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
• NHS Lothian
• NHS Tayside
• Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
• Royal College of General Practitioners
• Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
• Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
• Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland
• Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy
• Scottish Consultants in Dental Health
• Scottish Thoracic Society
• UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
• University of Edinburgh
• University of Stirling