Both the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England say doctors should help their patients make informed decisions when they want to quit smoking, and this includes advice on e-cigarettes.

NICE and PHE have published updated guidelines for health practitioners and smoking cessation services on the topic.

The new guidelines advise prioritising groups who are at the highest risk of harm from smoking. This includes women who are pregnant and people with mental health problems.

The report also advises smokers should be asked about their habit every time they are seen by a health or social care worker.

It’s also advised that evidence-based interventions be made available to smoking adults, while the report also notes that more people are asking their GPs about e-cigarettes.

Professor Gillian Leng is the deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE. On the issuing of the report, she said:

“Many people use e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking. The committee considered it likely that they are substantially less harmful than smoking. As a relatively new product, the long-term impact of their short-term use as well as the long-term health impact of their long-term use is still developing. The committee was concerned that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing. Our guidance therefore recommends that healthcare professionals help people make informed decisions on their use.”

It is estimated that seven million people still smoke in the England alone. This is despite years of both domestic and international anti-smoking campaigns across multi-media and on tobacco product packaging. In 2015 and 2016, around 474,000 NHS hospital admissions in England were linked to smoking-related conditions, according to NICE. In addition to this, around 16 percent of all deaths were due to smoking in 2015.

Click here for more information on the updated guidelines.