There is a possibility that the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom (UK) may soon prescribe or cover the cost of electronic cigarettes to help people quit smoking since it is 95% less harmful than tobacco, according to a report from BBC.

According to the report, the UK medicine regulator approved the marketing of e-Voke an E-cigarette brand for people who wants to stop smoking tobacco. The British American Tobacco is the producer of e-Voke, which could be prescribed on the NHS.

Electronic cigarettes widely used as quitting aid in England

The researchers from the Public Health England (PHE) found that that the smoking rates in the country have been declining. However, they noted that tobacco use remains one of the major public health challenges in the country. More disadvantaged communities in the country have been increasingly harmed by tobacco smoking.

According to PHE researchers, the use of electronic cigarettes became increasingly popular among smokers who want to quit smoking tobacco. The researchers indicated that E-cigarettes were possible alternatives to regular cigars. Their report showed that the steady increase in the use of e-cigarettes in England resulted in the continued long-term declines in smoking prevalence among adults and youth.

Electronic Cigarettes

The researchers found that the adults and youth using electronic cigarettes were already smokers. According to them, “The highest rates of E-cigarette use are found among adult smokers. E-cigarettes have rapidly become the most widely used quitting aid in England.”
Currently, there are approximately 10 million adults or about 20% of the adult population of the United Kingdom, are smoking cigarettes.

PHE wants to see a safe alternative for smokers

Professor Kevin Fenton, the National Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE said the agency “wants to see a choice of safe and effective replacement for smoking that smokers themselves want to use.” He noted that E-cigarettes are now the most popular quitting aid in the country, and he thinks most people should benefit from using it.

The PHE aims to achieve a tobacco-free generation by 2025. The agency believes that E-cigarettes have the potential to make a significant contribution to the end tobacco smoking.

On the other hand, Dr. Tim Ballard of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in the UK commented that it is unreasonable for the NHS to fund people’s lifestyle choices.

“Potentially, there may be a place for the prescription of e-Voke as part of a smoking cessation programme, but GPs would be very wary of prescribing them until there was clear evidence of their safety and of their efficacy in helping people to quit,” said Dr. Ballard. He added that currently there are no written evidence and guidance for GPs to make those decisions.

E cigarettes safety and perception of risks

A report from the PHE provided balanced information regarding the risks of using e-cigarettes so that smokers understand the potential benefits of switching and non-smokers also understand the risks of using it.

According to the PHE, electronic cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users when used as intended. The agency sad e-liquids should be in “childproof packaging” The accuracy of nicotine content labelling currently does not raise major concerns.

Professor John Britton’s conclusion in his 2014 review for PHE indicated that while vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking–related disease are absent, and the chemicals present poses little danger. His conclusion remains valid. The current best estimate is that E-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking.

E-cigarettes release negligible levels of nicotine into the ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.

There has been an overall shift among adults and youth towards the inaccurate perception of E-cigarettes as at least as harmful as cigarettes over the past year.