An E-Cigarette will now be offered as part of the NHS aids to quit smoking.
The news was quietly revealed by Jane Ellison MP during questions in the Commons at the end of November. The ‘Voke – nicotine inhaler’ which has been developed by British American Tobacco, was approved by Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) earlier in the month.
MHRA said in a statement: “the Voke is the second product meeting the definition of an e-cigarette to receive a marketing authorisation, but is the first product that electronically produces a vapour containing nicotine for inhalation, and thus would be considered a true e-cigarette.”
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomed the move. The group said: “Other electronic cigarette manufacturers and importers should be encouraged to apply for licences too.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, from Public Health England said: “Evidence showed e-cigarettes can help smokers to quit, particularly when combined with additional support from local stop smoking services.”
It is hoped the approval of the “Voke” by MHRA will provide some clarity on safety of E-Cigarettes since research shows a growing number of smokers are failing to understand the growing risk of smoking versus “vaping”. Between 2013 and 2015 the proportion of people surveyed who believed E-Cigarettes were as harmful as regular cigarettes increased from 6% to 20% according to polls conducted by YouGov for ASH.
Since becoming available to buy in 2004 E-Cigarettes have been shrouded in safety concerns including worries they will become gateway for young people into smoking. However in 2015 about 60% of UK users are smokers and about 40% are ex-smokers, while use among those who have never smoked remains “negligible” according to a report by ASH.
Concerns still remain
In a statement on its website the World Health Organisation has expressed concerns regarding E-Cigarettes: “These devices have become popular over the last four or five years, so there are only a few studies on the health risks and we don’t know the long-term effects. We don’t have epidemiological studies, such as those on the links between tobacco and cancer, because such studies take decades to complete.”
Controversy amongst Doctors
With the NHS set to make £22bn of efficiency savings over the next parliament the decision has led to some negative reactions from some doctors.
In a comment on Pulse, the GP magazine, Dr Peter Swinyard said: “Why should the NHS pick up the tab for these scripts? If people can afford to smoke, by and large they can afford the nicotine replacement. And how long to continue?”
He added: “We have to have a reality check about what the NHS can afford on its drug budget and on our time and effort in prescribing.”
Featured Image accredited to Vaping360.com