There’s been a lot in the news about different chemicals in e liquid being harmful. There’s been a lot of discussion about how e cigarettes are running out of steam, and may be just a passing ‘fad’. But there’s some massive news that for some reason seems to have gone largely unnoticed. This is the fact that e cigarettes will be available on prescription by the NHS in January 2016.
Apparently ministers wanted to keep this news quiet so that GPs aren’t overrun with people signing up to get their free e cigs. But the real news here is the NHS have given their full backing to e cigarettes as an aid to help people quit smoking. Surely this is something that should be gaining worldwide attention seeing as how the rest of the world seem intent on demonizing e cigarettes.
The NHS is an institution respected the world over for delivering world class health services at subsidized rates. A Public Health report carried out by the NHS in August 2015 found that e cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco.
The findings of the review include:
- A rise in e cigarettes have corresponded in a decrease in smoking.
- E cigarettes are now the most popular method of quitting smoking in England.
- There is good evidence that e cigarettes are effective in helping people quit smoking.
- In their expert opinion, e cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoking.
- When used as intended, e-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning.
- E-cigarettes release negligible amounts of nicotine into the environment, and no health risks to bystanders (e.g. passive smoking) have been identified.
These are massive claims by government backed experts in the NHS. If you follow news stories in the big media outlets, with all the talk of formaldehyde and safety concerns, you would be forgiven for thinking that expert opinion is swaying away from e cigarettes. But clearly, where the UK and the NHS are concerned e cigarettes offer a fantastic opportunity to rid the world of tobacco.
The report went further, suggesting:
- E cigarettes should not be treated in the same way as normal cigarettes and their use should not be banned in prisons and hospital trusts.
- E cigarettes offer the potential of providing a low-cost, effective intervention that could help England’s 8 million smokers to quit the habit for good.
- Stop smoking services should actively engage with smokers who want to use e cigarettes to quit.
- Once e cigarettes are regulated as medical products, e cigarettes could be made available by the NHS on prescription.
This was in August 2015 and we are now about to see e cigarettes prescribed for the first time in January 2016. This all comes hot on the heels of an EU directive that wants to put stricter regulations of e cigarettes, and the FDA’s decision to class e cigarettes as a tobacco product.
It feels great to live in a country where common sense prevails and it’s fantastic to see Britain and the NHS leading the way. It’s a fact that not one expert or scientist in the world can deny, that e cigarettes are safer than tobacco. It’s no wonder that conspiracy theories are rife within the industry with some suggesting the money men of big tobacco have a large say in the future of the e cigarette industry, and have considerable power when it comes to lobbying government institutions like the FDA and the EU.
I’ve always found it strange that the media seems biased against an industry that could help save so many lives. Tobacco has been a global epidemic for close to a hundred years, and the impact on health and the environment is unprecedented. Addiction itself is a human condition and for whatever reasons people continue to be addicted to a plant product that is known to kill. No amount of warning signs or graphic images of diseased lungs can get people to quit smoking. No amount of advertising bans and/or campaigns to get us to quit have helped in the reduction of smoking.
So here we have, for the first time in history a viable alternative to smoking and our government institutions are reluctant to publicly admit the benefits of e cigarettes. That is until the good old NHS stepped in with their forward thinking and common sense. It’ll be interesting to see how much publicity this gets when it’s rolled out in January. My suspicion is it’ll be rather low key, just as the report was in August. But with the NHS now backing e cigarettes the UK government has to take the same stance, and hopefully this will be followed by the EU and then the United States.
Let’s wait and see, but until then, happy vaping!