E-cigarettes 'increase smokers' dependence on nicotine' - experts
E-cigarettes may actually increase smokers' dependence on nicotine rather than help them to quit smoking, the Irish Cancer Society has warned.
Two out of three people using 'vaping' e-cigarettes are also continuing to smoke tobacco, new research revealed.
Regulation must be introduced urgently because no medical or pharmaceutical advice is being given to purchasers of e-cigarettes which create the potential for their long term use, said Kathleen O'Meara, spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society.
A poll of 1,150 adults showed the popularity of e-cigarettes is continuing to grow with more than 210,000 users in Ireland.
"This survey clearly shows that right now e-cigarettes are not a quitting aid as some people are led to believe," she said.
"E-cigarettes are becoming an increasingly popular choice for smokers looking for a healthier lifestyle and to save money. But there are better, more proven ways to quit smoking," she said.
The Irish Cancer Society is very concerned that 5pc of current smokers used e-cigarettes before they started smoking as it reflects the fear that they are being used as a 'gateway' product to tobacco.
Rather than being an aid to quitting, it could now be considered an initiator to smoking, she said. The survey showed 53pc of people believe e-cigarettes should be included in the workplace smoking ban with 20pc disagreeing.
"If e-cigarettes are to be considered a quitting aid in the future, they need to be properly regulated by the Department of Health. There are more effective treatments that have been proven to increase your chances of quitting up to four times. E-cigarettes are not one of them," Ms O'Meara said.
A Department of Health spokesman said e-cigarettes contain "highly addictive" nicotine and the Government is drafting a new law to be published this year to licence these products and ban their sale to minors.
Smokers can contact the HSE Quit Team on www.quit.ie