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​Further PHE Support for E Cigarettes

2nd Aug 2018

Public Health England have become quite the knight in shining armour where vaping is concerned over the past year or so. While the vaping community, researchers, charity groups and more all accept smoking as bad and vaping as much better some of the general public tend to be a little harder to convince sometimes. Public Health England (PHE) have been working to dispel the myths surrounding vaping and encourage more individuals to ditch smoking and move over to vaping. They are not content to stop at that. PHE now have the NHS in their pro-vaping sights and have announced that they feel that the NHS should be selling e-cigarettes, amongst other things.

Vaping and the NHS 

Earlier this year Public Health England (PHE) announced that they supported vaping as a valid and healthier alternative to smoking.Indeed, as part of their harm reduction review, and taking into account their own research and verified external research PHE announced that they find vaping to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking. The remaining 5% appears to be down to the fact that PHE may not definitively say 100% until studies have been undertaken over a longer period of time than those currently completed.

In order to encourage the switchover from cigarette to e cig, which they feel is entirely appropriate for those struggling to quit smoking via tradition methods including NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy), PHE have made recommendations to hospitals and GP services which include hospitals stocking e cigarettes for patients to buy. They have also suggested introducing private vaping rooms to facilitate their use rather than seeing patients leave the hospital to smoke harmful tobacco cigarettes outside.

As a quitting aid the e cig has been shown to be highly successful, so much so that one NHS trust started offering those in their Stop Smoking clinics a one-time £25 voucher which would enable them to buy a vaping starter kit and be well on the way to beating their harmful smoking addiction.

These changes, if implemented, would also extend to GP services, enabling health centres to prescribe e cigarettes as a cessation aid across all areas. The initial goal in order to facilitate this would be for the government to push for e cigarettes to be licenced as medial quitting/cessation aids.

Who are Public Health England

Public Health England are the government group responsible for all aspects of public health from campaigns such as Stoptober which runs every October, to the smoking ban. It was PHE who instigated the 2007 Go Smoke Free legislation which has made it illegal to smoke in public places such as work, in bars and cafes, on public transport and in areas where members of the public congregate, for example on train stations and in public buildings. PHE commission vast amounts of research into causes of poor health and illness, and use this data to put together ad push for practical change in order to combat issues. Raising awareness is a key part of PHE’s remit and as such they have done much in terms of dispelling the myths and fake news around vaping, instead working to ensure that individuals are able to make an informed choice.

In Summary

While some might be dubious there is mounting evidence that vaping helps people quit smoking,is significantly healthier and often more affordable long term. Giving up smoking is hard which is why so many people seek additional support from their GP or Stop Smoking service. If the PHE recommendations are agreed and go through more people will be able to receive clear information on what vaping is, how it works and why it is the better alternative to smoking.

While there may seem to be an additional cost to the NHS in terms of the e cigarette prescriptions (what we pay for our prescriptions rarely covers what we receive), this move is likely to help even more people quit smoking. This will result in less hospital admissions, GP appointments and various other costly and ongoing treatments due to or made worse by smoking. It is likely that these moves will not only improve health but also lessen the burden of the National Health Service.

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