Substituting electronic cigarettes for tobacco is beneficial to public health and should be encouraged for current smokers, according to a report from the U.K.’s Royal College of Physicians.
The report, released early Thursday morning in the U.K., rejects several safety arguments marshaled against e-cigarettes in recent years. It argues that smoking tobacco is so deadly that any small potential risk from long-term e-cigarette use is outweighed by their lifesaving effects.
Among the report’s conclusions are that e-cigarettes aren’t a gateway to smoking tobacco for current nonsmokers and that they likely lead tobacco smokers to try to quit regular cigarettes when they otherwise wouldn’t.
“This report lays to rest almost all of the concerns over these products, and concludes that, with sensible regulation, electronic cigarettes have the potential to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes in the U.K.,” said John Britton, director of the U.K. Center for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, who chaired the panel responsible for the report.
The report comes at a critical time for the e-cigarette industry, whose sales have fallen sharply in recent months. Confusion over the safety and health effects of the devices has contributed to a 6.2% decline in sales in the U.S. for the year ended March 26, according to Nielsen data cited by Wells Fargo.