Prescriptions E-cigarettes could face a roadblock because of the reluctance to recommend them by many doctors.

It was announced this week that England will be the first country to offer e-cigarettes for smokers.

According to a survey of over 2,000 staff, Cancer Research UK only two years ago, two fifths of nurses and doctors would be uncomfortable recommending ecigarettes to smokers.

England is set to become the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, it was announced this week (stock image)

It was announced this week that England will be the first country to offer e-cigarettes for smokers.

Another study, still unpublished, involved 11 Oxford University medical staff. It found that most doctors were hesitant to recommend long-term e-cigarette use due to concerns about long-term unknown effects. 

Paul Aveyard from the University of Oxford is a professor of behavioral medicine. He was involved with both pieces of research. Aveyard said: “GPs find it difficult to give patients something that may cause them harm, even though ecigarettes are far safer than cigarettes. They have to be careful with giving people nicotine-related devices.

“The only ones who were comfortable with it in recent research are those who prescribe methadone or opioid substitutes to heroin users, based on the same principle that this is safer. 

“E-cigarettes on prescription are a good idea. If they are approved by regulators and made available on the NHS, it could help to change the perception of GPs.”

But two in five nurses and doctors would feel uncomfortable recommending e-cigarettes to smokers, and one in six would never do so, ta survey of around 2,000 staff said (stock image)

According to a survey of approximately 2,000 employees, two-fifths of nurses and doctors would not recommend e-cigarettes for smokers. One in six would never do this (stock photo).

Although evidence has shown vaping to be linked with increased risk of heart disease and lung disorders, experts agree that it is safer than smoking.

Professor Martin Marshall of the Royal College of GPs called for more investment into community smoking cessation centers. He said: ‘Vaping should not be seen as a way of giving up smoking, with an intention to then give-up vaping.

John Dunne, from the UK Vaping Industry Association, stated that vaping has been proven to be more effective than any other form of nicotine replacement therapy.

SIMON CAPEWELL warns that the vaping industry is ignoring the health hazards of prescribing electronic cigarettes.

By Simon Capewell

Sajid Javid’s announcement by the Department of Health that e-cigarettes will soon be prescribed on the NHS in England is deeply concerning.

Yes, there are still 6.1 million smokers in England. We must increase our efforts to address this problem.

As a scientist who spent 30 years in public research on health, including heart disease, smoking, and diet, I can assure you that e-cigarettes will not be the solution.

Worse, these will lead to a whole host of other health issues.

Sajid Javid's (pictured) announcement that the Department of Health is paving the way for e-cigarettes to be prescribed on the NHS in England is deeply worrying

Sajid Javid (pictured) has announced that the Department of Health will allow e-cigarettes prescriptions to be made on the NHS in England. This is deeply alarming

Seven years ago, when vaping was first popularized, I was open-minded to the idea of it helping reduce smoking. 

However, as evidence mounts about the harms that vaping can cause I have become more worried about the enthusiasm shown by some public health organizations whose first duty should be to protect us.

I raised the issue previously with Public Health England (now defunct) and with the Department of Health. They repeatedly dismissed my concerns. This laissez-faire approach is in direct contrast to that of many global authorities in health. 

China and India have banned or severely restricted the sale of e-cigarettes following a 2016 World Health Organisation report.

England is on a dangerous path. Officials in England have fallen for the exaggerated claims made by the pro-vaping lobby and are not aware of the health risks. The main claim that e-cigarettes can be used to quit smoking is false. 

If that were true why would multi-national tobacco companies push vaping so strongly? E-cigarettes are a way of attracting new cigarette smokes, as I will explain. 

E-cigarettes are actually one of the most ineffective tools for quitting. They account for only 10% of long-term quitters in Britain.

Many people who quit smoking by vaping continue to use e-cigarettes as well as lit cigarettes. This is a win-win situation for tobacco companies. The majority of the 3 million vapers in the UK who smoke still do not intend to quit.

Next, let’s discuss the industry claim that electronic cigarettes are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. This claim is based on no solid evidence as far as my knowledge. PHE picked up on this spurious claim. 

After a 2016 report by the World Health Organisation about the health risks e-cigarettes pose, countries including China and India banned or severely restricted their sale (stock image)

China and India banned e-cigarettes or severely restricted their sales after a 2016 World Health Organisation report.

More solid evidence suggests that e-cigarettes may be 50% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarette supporters claim that there is no evidence of long term harm. There is plenty of evidence. 

Nicotine is addictive. The superheating of the more than 100 flavourings in e-cigs in order to mask the taste of nicotine or produce vapour can cause harmful chemicals.

Research has shown that e-cigarettes are more addictive than traditional cigarettes. This is why bubblegum and other youth-focused flavourings like bubblegum are so disgusting.

Nicotine poses a risk to the young because it can disrupt the development of important brain connections.

Personally, I don’t think e-cig makers will submit their products for UK medical approval anytime soon.

There are a half dozen safer ways to quit smoking than e-cigarettes, so it is clear that the NHS should not promote e-cigarettes.

Simon Capewell is a public-health expert and professor of clinical epidemiology at Liverpool University.