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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has unveiled a revised tobacco guidance, which includes updated advice for healthcare professionals on what to say to smokers about vaping.

The agency today (25 June) launched a consultation on the recommendations in the draft guideline, which is a consolidation and update of eight previous guidelines on smoking, developed in collaboration with Public Health England.

The guideline notes that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes can help people to stop smoking and are similarly effective to other cessation options such as a combination of short- and long-acting nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

The draft recommendations advise that, combined with behavioural support, the option of either a combination of short- and long-acting NRT or nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are more likely to result in people successfully stopping smoking.

“We need to use every tool in our arsenal to reduce smoking rates, including education, behavioural support, financial incentives, and e-cigarettes if people are interested in using them. Combined, we hope that people who smoke will feel enabled to give up tobacco products once and for all,” Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’S Centre for Guidelines, said.

The recommendations in the draft guideline include advising people on where to find information on e-cigarettes, that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than smoking, but that the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are still uncertain. People should also be advised on how to use e-cigarettes correctly and be informed that they should stop smoking completely if they decide to start using e-cigarettes.

Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has welcomed the consultation, saying the guidance is needed as 30 per cent of smokers have never tried e-cigarettes despite being a proven aid to quitting, more effective than nicotine patches or gum. Significantly, according to a YouGov survey for ASH, only one in ten smokers (12%) are aware that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking.

“With support and encouragement from health professionals more smokers would use an e-cigarette to help them stop, increasing the overall number who successfully quit long-term. This would be another step forward to securing the Government ambition for England to be Smokefree by 2030,” Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said.

The NICE consultation closes on 6 August.

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