Hospitals have been told to start selling e-cigarettes and letting patients vape indoors – and even in bed – under controversial new health advice.
Public Health England (PHE) said every smoker struggling to quit, including pregnant women, should be encouraged to take up e-cigarettes.
Officials urged hospitals to replace smoking shelters with vaping lounges, and said patients should even be allowed to vape in their beds, if they had single rooms.
And they said the devices should be given out by GPs on prescription, to encourage wider takeup.
The calls come as PHE published an independent review into the evidence surrounding e-cigarettes.
The report, by experts from King’s College London and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, the University of Stirling and Cancer Research UK, suggests e-cigarettes are helping up to 57,000 smokers a year to quit.
And it restated previous claims that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking, while putting the increased cancer risk at less than 0.5 per cent.
Officials said smoking kills up to two in three smokers, yet half of smokers wrongly believed e-cigarettes were as dangerous as smoking.
In the new report, PHE throws its weight behind vaping, stating that anyone struggling to quit smoking should be advised to try e-cigarettes. Health officials encouraged all employers to set aside rooms for staff using e-cigarettes as a means to give up smoking.