Health Experts Recommend Giving Out Free E-Cigs Through NHS to Help Smokers Quit
This week, Public Health England recommended that ecigs should be prescribed through the NHS to assist smokers who can’t seem to kick the tobacco habit. Experts predict that that 76,000 lives could be saved annually if smokers would simply switch to using electronic cigarettes. Public Health England stated that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking traditional cigarettes and ecigs could be a game changer in the fight against tobacco related death and disease.
In some areas of England, doctors are already recommending ecigs as a safer alternative to their patients. However, once ecigs are licensed properly, all doctors across the country will be able to prescribe vaping as a treatment for smoking addiction. Public Health England (PHE) believes ecigs will soon be available for free through the NHS and the health experts are urging doctors to prescribe them to smokers.
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing for PHE, said that while ecigs are not completely risk-free, they are still a step in the right direction. “Smoking remains England’s number one killer and the best thing a smoker can do is quit completely, now and forever,” Fenton said.
“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.” Fenton hopes that by having ecigarettes officially licensed, it will make the public feel more comfortable with using them as a smoking cessation tool.
Experts claim that ecigs could make a life and death difference for thousands of smokers. “E-cigarettes could be a game changer in public health,” said Professor Ann McNeill from King’s College London. “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.”
The PHE recommendation to make ecigs freely available has already stirred up some controversy. Just two months ago, the Welsh Government banned ecigs in restaurants, pubs, taxis, and office buildings. Southern Rail also recently banned vaping on board its 2,500 train services. Ecigs are also banned on Transport for London. With vaping outlawed in so many public places, it seems counterintuitive for doctors to pass them out to patients. Wouldn’t it be better if the bans were lifted and people were better informed of the differences between vaping and smoking so that they felt more at ease when ecigs are used in their presence? Will a doctor’s prescription for ecigs exempt people from public vaping bans?
Other critics believe that it’s a poor use of government resources to offer ecigs on the NHS. “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. While no one is arguing that doctors should talk to patients about ecigs as a possible smoking cessation option, some aren’t so sure that NHS is the best place to provide the ecigs.
Do you think ecigs should be available through NHS? Could this ultimately save taxpayer’s money on public health expenses by reducing healthcare costs for smoking related diseases?