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Published on September 14, 2015

E–cigarettes may soon be provided by the NHS to help smokers quit

E–cigarettes may soon be provided by the NHS to help smokers quit

 In Britain, 2.6 million adults are using e-cigarettes as a method to try and quit smoking as they are 95% less harmful than tobacco. The NHS have acknowledged the safety of using                     e–cigarettes and they could soon be prescribed on the NHS to encourage more smokers to quit. However, it must be noted that they are not completely risk-free, yet evidence suggests they carry a fraction of the harm compared to smoking.

Experts compiled a report for Public Health England suggesting that “vaping” could be a “game changer” for persuading people to stop using cigarettes. However, public health experts are unsure whether e-cigarettes are seen as a safer alternative to smoking or a pathway to addiction.

E-cigarettes can be seen as a life saver. Currently 80,000 people die a year due to cigarette smoking, but if everyone switched to e-cigarettes then this figure could drop to 4,000 deaths a year.

Between 2013-14 there were nearly 1.8 million prescription items to support patients to stop smoking. Over half of these were aided towards Nicotine Replacement Therapy, including patches, gum and sprays. In that year the cost to the NHS was just under £49 million, down on the figure three years earlier. If the NHS decide to prescribe e-cigarettes then this total would increase, with the kit costing a minimum of £20 and the replacement fluid costing around £10-a-week. It could be argued that the cost of this is justified by long-term saving on treating patients with smoking related diseases.

Healthcare professionals are being urged to discuss the use of e-cigarettes for people who wish to quit smoking. What are your thoughts on the topic?

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