UK Health Officials Advocate Prescription of E-cigarettes for Smokers to Quit the Habit

Health officials in the UK advocated the prescription of e-cigarettes to enable smokers to quit the habit.

The study which was commissioned and authorized by Public Health England found ‘vaping’ E-cigarettes or puffing an electronic cigarette was an effective way to push smokers to kick the habit. The battery-powered E-cigarettes were reportedly 95% safer than conventional tobacco-filled cigarettes and could be a ‘game changer’ in the realm of public health in the country, said Professor Ann McNeill from King’s College London who co-authored the government-backed study.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is a deadly killer and the main cause of preventable fatalities, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths annually in the UK and vaping could be of great help to deter this onslaught. A little less than one out of every 5 people in the UK smokes. Smoking is a dangerous killer and quitting the habit is the best thing to happen for any smoker, said the director of health and well-being in PHE, Kevin Fenton.

Although e-cigarettes are not completely risk free from the negative effects of nicotine, in comparison to the effects of traditional cigarettes, the risk is a mere fraction. Only 2.6 million out of the 8 million smokers in the UK take the vaping route. It is yet to gain popularity, mainly because the devices are not licensed either by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) or by the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This means the doctors cannot prescribe nor recommend the devices for the smokers.

The PHE-commissioned study found that e-cigarettes do not cause as much harm as conventional cigarettes, which means that if smokers can switch to vaping from puffing, the risks associated with smoking is almost totally removed. So, say the officials from PHE, it is imperative that e-cigarettes be made available on NHS despite conflicting reports about their safety. If all smokers switched to e-cigarettes, about 75,000 lives could be saved annually, claimed the PHE report. The PHE’s goal is to ensure the first non-smoking generation is reached by the year 2025.


Again, quite contrary to public perception, there is no evidence to show that e-cigarettes were the first step in picking up the smoking habit by non-smokers and children. However, another very recent study conducted in the US for high school students in California found that the children and non-smokers who started off with e-cigarettes were more likely to try the traditional form of smoking too.

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