"We've known from the start that the UK had a little bit more of an open mind about vaping than the U.S. did. Just a few years ago, Public Health England stated an oft-quoted estimate that e-cigarettes were roughly 95% safer than regular tobacco cigarettes. That same organization has been raising eyebrows again lately after it suggested that hospitals in the UK should make e-cigarettes and vape devices available for purchase in their facilities. They also propose that patients should have access to vaping lounges in hospitals.
Public Health England isn't stopping there in its quest to champion e-cigarettes in hospitals. They're hoping to get general practitioners the ability to prescribe e-cigs to patients at no cost as well.
Currently, patients are unable to smoke inside hospitals in the UK, just as in the United States. For visitors and hospital staff, some hospitals have a designated smoking shelter outside that is intended for smokers and vapers. This too has raised protest from vapers and e-cig advocates, who contend that vaping is so different from smoking that e-cig smokers should not have to inhale secondhand cigarettes smoke when they vape.
"It is going for each hospital to make their own policy but yes we would certainly encourage them to make at least some single occupancy rooms where people can vape. Of course, smoking is prohibited everywhere," Martin Dockrell, who is Public Health England's tobacco control lead, told Mirror.
Officials from Public Health England argue that since smoking is responsible for a large number of hospitalization cases, e-cigarettes should be more readily available to hospital patients.
They also assert that the public has been largely misguided about the potential hazards of vaping. E-cig use spiked in England a few years ago, but since then the numbers have stayed pretty steady.
"[O]ver half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know," Mirror quoted Public Health England's Professor John Newton as saying.
Do you think hospitals should allow smokers to vape? Are you ok with smokers being prescribed e-cigarettes? Let us know in the comments.