13 March 2018
More than a dozen top health professionals and organisations in Jersey have signed up to a joint agreement, released today to provide smokers with clear information about e-cigarettes with the aim of supporting informed choices about their use.
Health professionals and key partners in Jersey have today agreed, for the first time, a new ‘consensus statement' over the current understanding about e-cigarettes.
Jersey’s Medical Officer of Health, the Health and Social Services department, Strategic Public Health and associated professionals have released the joint statement to provide a consistent and clear message in an effort to bring some clarity around the use of e-cigarettes.
Tobacco is still a leading cause of death and disease in Jersey, with around 1,000 Hospital admissions a year estimated to be directly attributable to smoking.
The main message in the Jersey consensus statement, based on a similar Scottish agreement, from the group of health professionals and key stakeholders is that e-cigarettes should only be used as a potential route towards stopping smoking completely and not be used by non-smokers or children.
The Jersey consensus statement, released ahead of National No-Smoking Day, tomorrow 14 March, explains that, based on the latest limited research evidence, there is sufficient confidence to say that e-cigarettes are less harmful to smokers’ health than if they continue to smoke conventional cigarettes and as a route to stopping smoking altogether.
Welcoming the joint statement, Jersey’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Turnbull said: “Like many doctors, I have had reservations about e-cigarettes since they came on the scene, knowing that it can take many years, or even decades, for the health consequences of something new like this to become apparent.
‘However, I do welcome and support this new consensus statement, as a balanced and measured summary of what is known and can be said about where e-cigarettes appear to be positioned in terms of relative health risks to smokers, when compared with conventional smoking.
‘There does seem to be sufficient confidence now to be able to say that e-cigarettes pose a lower level of health risk to smokers, than conventional smoking. To be absolutely clear, if e-cigarettes have a useful role to play for public health purposes, it is for some smokers who may find them useful on their journey to stopping smoking. There is insufficient research evidence available yet to support any wider use, as their medium and long term risks to non-smokers cannot be quantified.’
Smoking remains the main cause in Jersey of preventable ill health and premature mortality.
Dr Turnbull added: “Thanks to all the various strategic efforts over the years to reduce tobacco-related harm, smoking has become very much a minority activity here, with only around 1 in 8 islanders overall reporting that they smoke daily. I look forward to seeing that rate continuing to fall, and to creating a new generation of non-smokers, as smoking is increasingly unpopular among today’s young people. I dream of a future where hardly any lung cancer, or chronic respiratory disease, blights lives as it does nowadays.’
The consensus statement is based on a similar statement for Scotland.
Martin Knight, Director of Public Health Policy, said: “We are aware of perceptions among the public that e-cigarettes may be as, or even more, harmful to health than ‘normal’ smoking, making some smokers reluctant to try them. There is enough confidence from the evidence available, limited though because e-cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon, to say that this is not the case. There is also sufficient evidence to say that, as the majority contain (addictive) nicotine, as well as a diverse range of other substances, that they should not be used by non-smokers, and especially not by children.
“We have already introduced legislation to restrict supply of e-cigarettes to under 18s. We therefore advise that people should not vape indoors, particularly around babies and children, as these products are not suitable for this use. We also want to avoid the potential of children experimenting with them.”
Dr Hamdi Amar, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Jersey General Hospital, added: “We are working with a lot of lung disease that has been caused by smoking - around 80% of deaths due to respiratory conditions are attributable to smoking. Because of this I have always strongly encouraged and referred my smoking patients to our Help2Quit team. This new consensus on advice to smokers is really important as it gives a clear message to smokers that e-cigarettes will be less harmful to them than if they continue to smoke.”
Jersey Tobacco Strategy
Jersey Consensus Statement