Government could make e-cigarettes and vape pens a prescription drug via the NHS

It would make England the only country in the world to make e-cigarettes obtainable by a qualified doctor’s prescription.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 11:31 am

In an effort to reduce the amount of people who habitually smoke tobacco products in England, the government has announced plans to make e-cigarettes a prescription drug.

They are currently working with the MHRA to ensure that the plan is safe and that there will be no issues with prescribed products.

To be eligible for prescription, a manufacturer must first contact the MHRA with the intent of making their product available to the NHS. If approved, the manufacturer’s product will then be able to progress to the next step.

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The vapor cloud produced by a man with an e-cigarette

Following this, a panel of clinicians would debate the usefulness of the product in terms of stopping people smoking before making it available to be prescribed.

The government has stated its intent to make England smoke-free by 2030 – which could involve a ban on the sale of tobacco products.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco kills approximately eight million people a year across the globe – 1.2 million of which aren’t even killed by smoking, but rather the second hand smoke given off by tobacco products. It remains as the leading cause of preventable death in the UK.

It’s also estimated by WHO that tobacco kills around half of the people who use it, though for most it is a slow, gradual process.

The policy has been fronted by Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid MP, who has stated: “This country continues to be a global leader on healthcare, whether it’s our vaccine rollout saving or our innovative public health measures reducing people’s risk of serious illness.

"Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background.”

It should be noted that while e-cigarettes are not harmless and do come with their own set of risks, it has been proven by experts that they are less dangerous to your health than cigarettes and other tobacco products.

There are currently around 6.1 million smokers in the UK. Research has found that lower income areas tend to have higher quantities of smokers than higher income areas.