I NOTE recent correspondence about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes (Letters, September 8 & 9), and the confusion in the public’s mind of the safety of these products, which our governments north and south of the Border, are claiming is a good way to assist smokers to quit.

I am not surprised that the public are confused because the Government’s approach to this is one of utter confusion. On the one hand we have been prescribing nicotine patches for over a decade to support smoking quitters, yet across the world the success rate for them is around two per cent.

We are now considering prescribing e-cigs, which are loaded with various self-regulated, doses of nicotine, to be vaped by those quitting smoking, when there is no reliable evidence that it works.

E-cigs came on the market about five years ago, before any legislation was in place to control their quality, safety, or who is qualified to sell them to the unsuspecting public. There are not even laws in place to prevent children from buying and using them.

The confusion continues in our Government’s thinking, because it is happily prescribing methadone to heroin addicts, when the latest drug death figures for Scotland showed that one-third of the 613 deaths, the highest ever recorded, were associated with methadone.

In several countries, pure medicinal heroin is being prescribed with appropriate clinical support, to heroin addicts to ease them off their addiction to that powerful drug. That has had a far higher success rate than methadone ever had. I worked in New York in 1965 with heroin addicts, where Methadone and been trailed for 5 years, to cure heroin addiction. This failed in the United States, so what did we do 25 years later? Adopt the failed methadone programme.

This sorry tale of confusion, continues though, because we know that it is much safer for cannabis users to use vaporisers to consume their drug of choice, instead of with tobacco. Our Government won’t even consider this as a possibility, nor will it provide proper health education to cannabis users to advise them on how to use their drugs in safer ways. We do with heroin injecting.

So how I wonder does our Government think that it is okay for the multi-national tobacco companies, who own most of the e-cig companies, to profit from selling e-cigs, with no instruction on how safe they are, no reliable advice on how they should be used, and no evidence based information, on which users of e-cigs can reasonably judge what the long term damage to their health could be.

Finally, let’s never forget that 80 per cent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes goes to the Westminster Government in tax and it also collects tax from e-cigs. Is there a clue there to what is fuelling the confusion?

Max Cruickshank,

Iona Ridge, Hamilton.

WITH the drink culture well established in Scotland, we need to start providing for those who don't drink alcohol to excess. Introducing subsidised "community safety cafes" to compliment Glasgow’s night zones and their marshalled taxi ranks has to be a winner.

We need alcohol-free zones where we could go to chill out safely, but the only places open late are pubs or restaurants with an alcohol licence.

Let’s see sobriety given more of a push. Through time that would cut down on the regular crime fuelled by drunkenness, leading to alcohol-related arrests and otherwise avoidable hospital visits.

Jill Ferguson,

1/1, 6 Crow Road, Glasgow.