UK Health Officials Push For Smokers To Have E-Cigarette Prescriptions To Curb Addiction

by : Julia Banim on : 29 Oct 2021 19:11

The NHS could soon be prescribing e-cigarettes to help smokers in England to kick the habit.

Manufacturers have now been invited to submit goods to The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which will assess factors such as safety and effectiveness. If approved, then these will be prescribed for those looking to quit smoking.


This could mean that England is set to become the very first country to prescribe medicinally licensed e-cigarettes as a means of reducing smoking rates.

e-cigarettes (Alamy)Alamy

As per updated regulatory guidelines published Friday, October 29, smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death in the UK. Although rates are at record lows, 6.1 million in England still smoke, with nearly 64,000 people having died from smoking in England in 2019.

In 2020, it was found that e-cigarettes were the most popular method used to quit smoking. A reported 27.2% of smokers used these compared with 18.2% using nicotine replacement therapy products like patches and gum.


E-cigarettes were been found to be highly effective, with some of the highest success rates among those who use e-cigarettes alongside local Stop Smoking services. As many as 68% reportedly quit successfully during the period 2020 to 2021.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has given the following statement:

This country continues to be a global leader on healthcare, whether it’s our COVID-19 vaccine roll-out saving lives or our innovative public health measures reducing people’s risk of serious illness.

Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background.

Smoking (Alamy)Alamy

If a product is given MHRA approval, clinicians would decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to prescribe e-cigarette to patients. Non-smokers and children are said to be ‘strongly advised against using e-cigarettes’.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine and are not without risks. However, experts from the UK and US have confirmed that regulated e-cigarettes cause less harm than smoking. Furthermore, any medicinally licensed e-cigarettes would need to pass rigorous safety checks.

The government will reportedly soon publish a brand new Tobacco Control Plan which will outline ‘a roadmap for achieving a smoke-free England by 2030’.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Health, Addiction, Now


Department for Health and Social Care
  1. Department for Health and Social Care

    E-cigarettes could be prescribed on the NHS in world first