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The RCGP official position on e-cigarettes was released in partnership with CRUK in 2016 but was updated in September 2017 to reflect new evidence.
The recommendations for Primary Care Clinicians from the College are:
- Primary Care Clinicians (PCCs) should provide advice to smoking patients on the relative risks of smoking
- Patients should be advised that behavioural support and prescription medication from local Stop Smoking Services (SSS) is the most effective quit method. PCCs should provide referral to SSS where these services exist and the patient wishes to access this support
- Using their clinical judgement on an individual patient basis, PCCs may wish to promote e-cigarette use as a means to stopping. Patients choosing to use an e-cigarette in a quit attempt should be advised that seeking behavioural support alongside e-cigarette use increases the chances of quit success further. Most SSS are e-cigarette friendly and patients can be advised to bring one to their appointment if they would like to quit using their device
- PCCs recognise e-cigarettes offer a wide reaching, low-cost opportunity to reduce smoking (especially in deprived groups in society and those with poor mental health, both having elevated rates of smoking). In the UK, though start-up costs can be higher, it likely to be less expensive to use an e-cigarette over time than it is to smoke
E-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.
E-cigarettes are helpful but stop smoking services are the most successful way to quit smoking.