U.K. public health team nudges smokers to use smokeless cigarettes

Finally a bit of sound science and common sense seems to be percolating from an official governmental agency unfortunately, not in our country. The U.K.'s Cabinet level behavioral insight team, better known as the nudge unit, is encouraging the use of smokeless nicotine cigarettes to help addicted smokers quit, thus hoping to prevent tens of thousands of smoking-related deaths among Britons. Published on Thursday, the unit's first annual report states: If alternative and safe nicotine products can be developed which are attractive enough to substitute people away from traditional cigarettes, they could have the potential to save 10,000s of lives a year.

In fact, the nicotine levels present in some new, smoke-free cigarettes called e-cigarettes, for electronic are no more harmful than the amount of caffeine found in coffee, health experts stated. Currently, the U.K.'s Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is in the process of determining whether to exempt e-cigarettes from the strict regulations imposed on drugs. If approved, the regulation change will likely push the government to prominently feature the products in tobacco shops.

The unit's report focuses mostly on e-cigarettes, since other smokeless tobacco products, such as Snus, are illegal in the U.K., points out ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. Nevertheless, their pro-harm reduction stance took me quite by surprise. He adds, This is hopeful news and allows us to believe that even our government, which continues to adhere to a the rigid quit or die approach to tobacco and nicotine addiction, can learn a lesson from our friends across the Atlantic.