While Malaysia and most of the world has been debating over the health risks of vapes and e-cigarettes, England could soon prescribe it as a medical product on their National Health Services (NHS) to help people stop smoking tobacco products.
According to VICE, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said e-cigarette manufacturers can now submit products to go through the same regulatory approvals process as other medicines.
This could mean that England might become the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes as a medical product but it requires approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).
If the products receive approval, it will then be up to doctors to decide whether it would be appropriate to prescribe an e-cigarette to a patient who is looking to stop smoking.
“By following the science, the UK has been a global pioneer in taking a pragmatic and proportionate response to vaping as a public health benefit,” said Harry Shapiro, director of drug charity DrugWise and lead author of a report on global tobacco harm reduction.
Apparently, regulated vape products, while not risk-free, carry a fraction of the harms of regular cigarettes, according to expert scientific reviews, which estimate vaping is “95 percent safer” than smoking.
“Vaping devices are readily available in the UK, although more disadvantaged people may well benefit from a prescription. Equally important is the message it sends out to doctors and current smokers that vaping is significantly safer than smoking. Smokers should be encouraged to switch to improve their health and even save their life,” Harry said.
According to the NHS, while e-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide – two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke – “the liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke but at much lower levels”.
Meanwhile, Alan Boobis, emeritus professor of toxicology at Imperial College London and chair of the UK Committee on Toxicity said, “I think it’s fair to say that using an e-cigarette that meets current consumer standards will be a lot less harmful than smoking cigarettes.
“Smokers trying to quit can try vaping, without waiting for a medicinally licensed product to go on sale before doing so. However, licensed vaping products will have to meet a defined standard set by the medicines regulator, the MHRA, and in return, they will be available to clinicians to prescribe to their patients, which will be an important step forward”.