Objectives To seek community pharmacists' perception on use, safety and possible effectiveness of e-cigarettes as quit smoking tools, and their future regulation.
Setting A survey of a sample of 154 community pharmacies across London, UK.
Context E-cigarettes have exclusively established themselves in the market through consumers-led demand. To date, e-cigarettes still remain unregulated and can be easily purchased in shops, over the internet, but more controversially also in pharmacies in the UK. Pharmacists find themselves with a shortage of information on their safety and efficacy, and may experience an ethical dilemma when consulted by patients/customers.
Key findings Response rate: 60% (n=92). Independent pharmacies accounted for 90% of the sample. The majority of participants (73%) sell e-cigarettes. A minority of participants (20%) have been presented with adverse effects such as cough and dry mouth. As possible reasons for their use, pharmacists ranked ‘aid in stop smoking’ as the most important (56%), with ‘cheaper alternative’ (43%) and ‘social/recreational use’ (31%) being the least important ones. Safety issues were raised as statements such as ‘e-liquid in cartridges may be toxic’ were agreed by 52% of respondents. The majority of pharmacists (97%) were supportive of e-cigarettes being regulated, expressing current concerns regarding excipients (42%) and nicotine content (34%). Participants indicated that they would require training in the form of information packs (88%), online tutorials (67%), continuous professional development (CPD) workshops (43%) to cover safety, counselling, dosage instructions, adverse effects and role in the smoking cessation care pathway in the future.
Conclusions Pharmacists expressed concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes, especially regarding the amounts of excipients and nicotine as these still remain unregulated. Currently, there are no guidelines for pharmacists regarding e-cigarettes. Community pharmacists look forward to regulations so to conduct their duties in a more confident and legislated fashion.
- community pharmacist
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Contributors GC is the principal investigator of the study. He is responsible for the design of the study, and organised and coordinated all aspects of the research including all steps of the manuscript preparation. ACNMG has drafted the publication and co-led the investigation. FB has contributed to the analysis of results. SN-G and RK have actively helped the provision of data collection tool and analysis of results.
Funding This study was supported by the Department of Pharmacy at Kingston University, London.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Kingston University Ethical Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.