The government clearly can't decide whether e-cigarettes are a good thing or not, because the Science and Technology Committee has launched a fresh inquiry into their impact on people's health. The inquiry will also be looking at the financial implications they have on businesses and the NHS, plus regulations that guide their use.
Norman Lamb, a Lib Dem MP and chairman of the committee, says that over three million people regularly use e-cigarettes, but claims "there are still significant gaps in the research guiding their regulation and sale." He noted that some people see e-cigs as a way to get off smoking, which is definitely harmful, but to others it's normalising cigarette use for younger generations.
This news comes just after e-cigarettes appeared in the Stoptober campaign, which challenges smokers to give up for a month (and possibly longer). This is first time they've been featured since they started gaining popularity, and after they proved to be the most popular method of quitting proper cigarettes during the 2016 campaign.
Currently e-cigarettes are not available on prescription from the NHS, and draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) don't promote their use as a quitting tool. NICE does, however, state that patients should be informed that some people find e-cigs a helpful tool. It does, however note that there "is currently little evidence on the long-term benefits or harms of these products", which is presumably why it's held off on fully recommending them.
The cross-party group of MPs that form the Science and Technology Committee have asked that research be submitted by the 8th December. Whatever the results of their enquiry, however, you can be sure that the story of whether e-cigarettes are bad for you or not is far from over. [BBC News]