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Public Health England Pushes for Smokers to Receive Free Ecigs Through NHS

As research uncovers more information about vaping, health experts are forced to reexamine their stance on vaping. This week, Public Health England made an official stand in support of ecigs and even recommended that the National Health Service make electronic cigarettes available to smokers as a quit tool. Recent research revealed that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. Experts believe that 76,000 lives could be saved each year if smokers would use electronic cigarettes rather than tobacco products.

A handful of England’s physicians are already recommending vaping to patients as a tool to stop smoking, but if ecigs are offered through NHS, it could be a game changer for public health. Once ecigs are officially licensed, physicians across the country will be able to freely prescribe them to patients. This could lead to drastic improvements in public health.

“Smoking remains England’s number one killer and the best thing a smoker can do is quit completely, now and forever,” said Professor Kevin Fenton from Public Health England. “E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm. The problem is people increasingly think they are at least as harmful and this may be keeping millions of smokers from quitting.” If ecigs were available through NHS, it would help the public feel more comfortable with vaping.

Professor Ann McNeill from King’s College London said that doctors should embrace ecigs as a way to help patients finally walk away from tobacco. “The evidence consistently finds that e-cigarettes are another tool for stopping smoking and in my view smokers should try vaping and vapers should stop smoking entirely.”

Of course, not everyone is convinced that vaping is the answer to England’s health problems. Many are still uneasy with vaping and nonsmokers often don’t feel comfortable with people using ecigs in close vicinity. The Welsh Government recently banned ecigs in closed spaces such as pubs, restaurants, taxis, and offices. Vaping is also banned on most forms of public transportation across England. It stands to reason that even if doctors recommend ecigs, smokers won’t gain the full benefit if they aren’t free to vape. If ecigs do become available through NHS, will new laws be created to accommodate vapers with prescriptions for ecigs?

Some critics are also frustrated that taxpayers could get stuck with the bill for thousands of electronic cigarettes. “We but would question whether prescribing ecigarettes on the NHS is a justifiable use of taxpayers’ money,” said a spokesman for the Forest lobbyist group.

Do you think that making ecigs free through NHS would encourage more smokers to switch?

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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