Will The NHS Start Prescribing E-Cigarettes?
A recent article on the UK Gov website has caught our attention…
“England could be the first country in the world to prescribe medicinally licensed e-cigarettes to help reduce smoking rates.”
The Government is looking to drastically cut down smoking rates as part of their Smokefree 2030 scheme (which, in case you couldn’t tell, is a goal to end tobacco smoking in England by 2030).
As huge advocates for the use of e-cigarettes to stop smoking, the team at Vape Simple HQ think this sounds like a huge step forward.
Plus, it would make England the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes medicinally!
So, how exactly would this e-cigarette prescription service work? Let’s take a deep dive into this news and figure out what could be coming up soon for the world of vaping…
NHS E-Cigarette Prescriptions: How Would It Work?
If this plan goes ahead and vaping products start being approved for use as medicinal products, then doctors could begin prescribing them to patients.
Clinicians would be able to decide whether a particular NHS patient would benefit from an e-cigarette. It’s likely that this would only occur if someone is unwell and urgently needs to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes.
It seems that this would only apply to NHS patients for now, and not to private healthcare patients.
And, of course, it’s still strongly advised that non-smokers or people under the age of 18 do not use e-cigarettes.
What Vaping Products Could You Get Through an NHS Prescription?
It’s not entirely clear which vape products you’d be able to get through an NHS prescription – this is probably because this plan isn’t set in stone just yet.
However, it seems like it could be pretty much everything…
The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) is responsible for managing what can/cannot be prescribed to patients in the UK.
They are the people who create the guidelines and criteria that products must meet in order to be medicinally licensed.
So, e-liquid or e-cigarette manufacturers would be able to submit their products to the MHRA, and then either get approved or disapproved for a medicinal license.
If they are approved, then clinicians will be able to prescribe the manufacturer’s products to patients, just like any other medicinal healthcare product.
We are unsure what the criteria will be for getting medicinally licensed, but it should ensure that unsafe products from unreputable manufacturers are kept far, far away from the NHS!
Is It Safe For the NHS to Prescribe E-Cigarettes?
Research and expert reviews have concluded that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking – at least 95% less harmful in fact!
Despite this, they do contain nicotine and are not risk-free. This is why it’s so important to have a strong regulatory process to ensure that:
- Only safe products from reputable manufacturers are being prescribed
- Only those who need these products to quit smoking tobacco are getting prescriptions
The number one reason the government is looking to implement this change is that e-cigarettes have proven to be extremely effective at helping people to quit smoking.
And smoking is the highest preventable cause of premature death in the UK. Fortunately, we are at a record-low for smokers in the UK, but this number is still 6.1 million. So, there’s a long way to go…
27.2% of smokers have used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, which is higher than any other sole method.
The most successful way to quit smoking is by using an e-cigarette alongside Stop Smoking services. This has shown a huge 68% success rate!
So, we expect that this is what the NHS will offer: a prescribed e-cigarette alongside support from local Stop Smoking services.
What do you think – is this a step forward for the UK? Will this help to reduce smoking rates so that we can achieve Smokefree 2030? Leave a comment below!