The electronic cigarette should not be offered as a tool for smoking cessation by health professionals, for lack of perspective on its benefits and risks, believes the High Council of Public Health (HCSP). “Health professionals who accompany a smoker in a process of smoking cessation must use drug treatments or not having proven their effectiveness”, such as patches or nicotine gums, judges this advisory body in an opinion published on Monday .
According to him, “knowledge based on evidence is insufficient to offer (electronic cigarettes) as aids to smoking cessation in the management of smokers by health professionals”. “The potential benefits and risks of the medium or long-term use of electronic cigarettes with or without nicotine, have not yet been established”, continues the HCSP, which wants studies on the subject.
However, this body does not completely condemn these products, which can “be used outside (or in addition to) a support within the framework of the care system”. Even if we do not know precisely the relationship between their benefits and their risks, it is not excluded that “these products used outside the health system may represent an aid for certain consumers and thus contribute to improving their health”, underlines the HCSP. .
A notice that replaces that of 2016
This opinion replaces a precedent dated 2016, in which the HCSP considered that the electronic cigarette could “be considered as an aid to stop or reduce tobacco consumption”. The electronic cigarette emits, by heating a liquid composed of propylene glycol or glycerol, a vapor generally loaded with nicotine and aromas. It does not emit tar or carbon monoxide, the two most harmful elements in tobacco smoke that cause cancer and cardiovascular disease. But the vapor contains fine particles whose long-term effects are unknown.
The question divides the medical community. On the one hand, the health authorities are very cautious: in July, the WHO (World Health Organization) had repeated that electronic cigarettes could be “dangerous” and should be regulated. But this caution is considered guilty by addiction specialists. They underline that the electronic cigarette is infinitely less dangerous than the tobacco and that to choose, the first is preferable to the second.