Should E-Cigarettes Be Available on Prescription?

There is a growing awareness in the medical profession that electronic cigarettes are a viable way to help people stop smoking. For people who provide e-liquid for customers or for wholesale, there is already clear proof that those who vape no longer smoke tobacco cigarettes.  But should e-cigarettes be available on prescription as a stop-smoking aid?

Independent review

According to an independent review conducted by Public Health England earlier this year, the answer is a definite yes.  The review showed that at least 20,000 people a year were able to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes by switching their habit to e-cigarettes instead.  And their report also confirmed that these products at 95% less harmful than smoking.

The report also stated a case that is being taken up more widely – that there should be areas where people can vape.  They even advocated having an area in hospitals where people can go to vape and allowing shops in hospitals to stock e-liquids and vaping products.

Easier route to licensing

Currently, there are no e-cigarette products that are licensed as a quit-smoking aid in the UK but PHE is calling for an easier route for manufacturers and producers to be able to get this important medicinal license.

Health Improvement Director John Newton called on the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to see what they can do the make it easier for these products to receive licenses.  This would then increase the availability to people as a licensed quit-smoking aid.

Clearing the confusion

PHE acknowledged that there is still confusion about the case for e-cigarettes among some of the public with a study by independent tobacco experts finding people still didn’t know if they were safe or not.  But Mr Newton said there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that they were far safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes and that there was only a ‘negligible risk’ to bystanders – unlike the problem of second-hand smoke from tobacco cigarettes.

Over half of smokers have never tried an e-cigarette because they see them as somehow riskier than their normal option.  PHE are keen to get the message out there that vaping is a safer option than continuing to smoke tobacco cigarettes.

Concern about poor understanding

Ann McNeil, one of the authors of the report, said there is great concern that many smokers still don’t realise it is safer to vape than to smoke and also that people still don’t have a clear picture of why tobacco cigarettes are so dangerous.  For example, tobacco cigarettes have over 7000 constituents, 70 of which are known to cause cancer.

People smoke for nicotine and while it may be addictive, it isn’t very harmful – it is the other elements in the cigarette that cause the damage.  So while e-cigarettes fill the need for the nicotine it is much less harmful because those other thousands of dangerous ingredients aren’t involved in the process.

As producers and sellers of e-liquids, part of our job is to help people better understand vaping and how it can help them get away from the dangers of tobacco smoking.  In the long run, it could even save their life.

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