NHS ENGLAND IN A POTENTIAL WORLD FIRST TO PRESCRIBE E-CIGARETTES TO HELP PEOPLE STOP SMOKING
Vaping has been hitting the headlines in a big way recently. On 29th October 2021 the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it was updating its guidance on the use of e-cigarettes, effectively paving the way for medicinally licensed e-cigarette products to be prescribed for people who want to stop smoking.
This is in the context of the UK government’s aggressive targets to become smoke free by 2030 – which is, after all, only nine years away.
Both the NHS and Cancer Research have been vocal in their support for vaping as an effective means to stop smoking. Plus Public Health England (PHE) has long been an advocate for the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a quitting aid, stating that e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more.
So would more smokers be more likely to try vaping if their GP prescribed it? A medicinally licensed e-cigarette would have to pass some pretty rigorous safety checks, so we believe this will be a game-changer for the nation’s health. It could tackle the barriers that put smokers off from trying them, such as cost or safety concerns. And we hope it will also relieve some of the burden on the NHS from the estimated half a million annual hospital admissions attributed to smoking.
BUT ISN’T VAPING JUST AS HARMFUL AS SMOKING?
No. Facts are facts and it has been proved many times over that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking and is likely to have substantial health benefits over continued smoking.
We’ve been reading the recent media stories about an outbreak of a lung injury called EVALI in the USA. It’s interesting to note that all but one of these cases occurred only in the US, and were caused by people using vaping products cut with cannabis products and vitamin E acetate (both of which are either illegal or prohibited in the UK).
Then there’s the so-called “popcorn lung” so beloved of the tabloid headline writers. So again let’s look at the facts. “Popcorn lung” is caused by a chemical flavouring in e-liquids called diacetyl which is banned in the UK. Therefore, using a UK-regulated vaping product and e-liquid purchased from a licensed outlet will categorically not cause “popcorn lung”.
We’re not claiming that vaping is 100% risk-free. Almost all the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of chemicals (such as tar and carbon monoxide) contained in tobacco smoke. As vaping products do not contain or burn tobacco, these chemicals are either not present or are present at significantly lower levels.
So, given all this plus the fact that the UK vaping industry is already heavily regulated for both the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids, it looks like the stars are finally aligning to prevent an average 64,000 annual UK deaths from smoking.
By spreading the message that vaping and smoking are not the same, and outlining vaping’s value as a tool to quit, our objective is to help reduce the number of people in the UK who are needlessly dying through smoking-related cancers.
If you have any questions about vaping as a means to quit smoking, or about any of our products, please get in touch.