A WIGAN health chief has supported a government call for e-cigarettes to be handed out to smokers on the NHS.
Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, has spoken out to highlight the importance of using vapers for those hoping to quit smoking.
This study highlights the importance of helping people to stop smoking which is our main priority to help reduce the impact on Wigan Borough’s healthProf Kate Ardern
Public Health England said this week that many people wrongly believe e-cigarettes carry health risks in the same way cigarettes do.
But research shows they are much safer for individuals than cigarettes.
Borough GPs and stop-smoking services are not able to prescribe or recommend e-cigerettes at the moment as they are not currently licensed for medicinal purposes.
But Wigan experts hope this will change some time soon, saying the vapers carry very few health risks.
Prof Ardern believes smokers should be able to use the vapers in their quest to stop the habit.
She said: “This study highlights the importance of helping people to stop smoking which is our main priority to help reduce the impact on Wigan Borough’s health.
“The PHE report says that e-cigs are not risk-free but are less harmful than tobacco-based products.
“Wigan and Leigh Tobacco Control Alliance would support e-cig usage, as an aid to stopping smoking, if the products were regulated to enable individuals to gradually cut down the nicotine content in the products.
“To maximise the likelihood of a successful quit we would recommend smokers use the expert support available from Wigan Healthy Routes Health Improvement Service, pharmacists or GPs, all of whom can help our residents to break the habitual behaviour element of smoking so that smokers are not just swapping one addictive product for another.
“Anyone who wants to find out more about quitting can go to www.wigan.gov.uk and search for stop smoking.”
Recent figures found that there is still an alarming rate of both children and pregnant women smoking in the borough.
Some 16.7 per cent of women are still smoking at the time of pregnancy, dropping just 0.1 per cent from last year, recently sparking an urgent warning from health chiefs.
And data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre found showed that almost a quarter of 15 year olds in Wigan have smoked at some point in their lives, but many of them smoking real cigarettes and not vapers.