New guidelines for health professionals on vaping

Posted on November 17, 2023 By Colin

NEW EVIDENCE-BASED GUIDELINES on vaping have been released by the UK National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training to educate health professionals about vaping and to encourage them to assist smokers to quit with vaping. The guidelines were prepared by a team of UK and international experts in the field.

The briefing (available here) is also a valuable aid to Australian health professionals. Most Australian doctors remain misinformed about vaping and very few are able to provide support for smokers, raising fears among vapers that they will not be able to access prescriptions and legal vaping supplies when the new regulations are introduced.

This is despite the UK guidelines stating “we now have strong, high-quality research evidence” and that health professionals can be confident in using vapes to help smokers quit.

Vaping is a first-line treatment for smoking in the UK and is the most common stop smoking aid. It also has a role as a reduced-harm alternative to smoking and can help to maintain temporary abstinence. According to Professor John Britton, former Chair of the UK Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group,

Smokers are driven by an addiction to nicotine, but it is the many other components of tobacco smoke that disable and kill. So, the emergence of e-cigarettes, which allow smokers to inhale nicotine without smoke and hence at much-reduced risk, has been a game-changer

UK studies show that vaping is twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy in helping smokers to quit.

The guidelines make it clear that smoking is the health priority, not nicotine,

Abstinence from nicotine is not necessarily a priority, the most urgent priority is to support people to switch away from smoking tobacco

Health and safety

The guidelines clearly state

Anyone who switches from smoking to vaping is instantly improving their current and future health

"Whilst not risk-free, there is no doubt that, relative to continued smoking, vaping is far less harmful"

"The cancer risk for people who vape is considerably lower than for those who smoke"

"Long-term regular vaping has also been found to improve, not worsen, smoking-related diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and smoking-exacerbated diseases such asthma"

"Long-term vaping is unlikely to be without consequences. There is a theoretical possibility that long-term vaping may increase the risks of lung cancer, COPD, cardiovascular and other smoking-related diseases. However, these risks are likely to be significantly lower than the risks of smoking and low in absolute terms"

"If a person who is pregnant chooses to use a vape, and if that helps them to quit smoking and stay smokefree, they should be supported to do so"

Practical advice

The guidelines provide health professionals with practical advice on supporting smokers to quit with vaping a

They also address some of the rampant myths and inaccurate press information about vaping, such as

This briefing is highly recommended for all health professionals who work with smokers.


Vaping: a guide for health and social care professionals. UK National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training. November 2023

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