Could E-cigs soon be available on the NHS?
With the ever-growing popularity of vaping in recent years and the various studies that show e cigarettes can be an effective aid to help quit smoking, there have been calls for them to be prescribed on the NHS.
The Public Health Executive (PHE) has said that it was “committed to ensuring that smokers have a range of evidence-based effective tools to help them to quit”. PHE were looking forward to the time when there would be “a choice of medicinally regulated products that can be made available to smokers by the NHS on prescription.”
The first steps towards this aim have been taken this month. An e-cigarette has been granted a licence by Britain’s medicines regulator for the first time. A licence has been granted by The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to British American Tobacco for its brand of e-Voke devices. These can now be marketed as a smoking cessation aid.
A Cautious Approach
Despite this ground-breaking advancement, Dr Tim Ballard, the vice-chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners has voiced concerns and urged for caution. Stating “Potentially there may be a place for the prescription of *e-Voke as part of a smoking cessation programme…”. Before telling patients that the devices are available on the NHS, Dr. Ballard called for more research to be carried out.
Dr Ballard was also quoted as saying “GP’s would be very wary of prescribing them until there was clear evidence of their safety and of their efficacy in helping people to quit.”
This suggests that although we have seen the first steps taken towards the medical regulation of e-cigarettes, we may still be some way from seeing them prescribed by the NHS to help smokers who wish to quit.
Electronic cigarette review sites and those who are pro e-cigarettes will point out that if we wait 10 years for evidence based information, many smokers will die. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 5 million people WILL die from smoking in the USA alone!