The Public Health England View Point
Tue 20 Feb 2018
Public Health England (The Government’s public health body) undertake many studies, and research on vaping has been prominent in recent years due to the surge in uptake by the British population. We at ELFC have called for acknowledgement from the NHS and Department of Health for some time that it would be a wise idea to introduce e-cigarettes as a tool to aid smoking cessation in some official capacity, or at the very least to promote vaping as a healthy alternative.
Taking the plunge to commit to a major endorsement is not something the public sector does lightly, so all we have had so far is dribs and drabs of positivity, with the odd daredevil publicly advocating vaping, but never going that step further and having a Trust or health body backing it.
Until last week that is! Public Health England’s latest report has in summary;
Confirmed that e-cigarettes and vaping is “far safer” than cigarettes and smoking.
Declared that more can be done to actively get people to switch to healthier products.
Expressed the view that there are many important policy questions to be asked to maximise the benefits of switching.
Confirmed that fear and stigmatising is very much present, and that many more people (40% of smokers have never even tried vaping) could switch to electronic devices permanently if they correct their “wrong impression” on the dangers of vaping.
Reported that vaping is “at least 95% less harmful” than smoking.
Public Health England took their report one step further and are now urging manufacturers to submit their own health findings, and push for licencing to get their products into hospitals. At present, no licences are held, this is the responsibility of the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Authority (The MRHA) in the UK. More “MRSA” in some peoples’ view, but hey, they can redeem themselves! Once approved, the e-cigarette and juice could be prescribed, which, depending on your viewpoint on prescriptions, may be the ultimate goal. As a buyer for the NHS, I understand the concerns surrounding prescription costs. Be reminded though that although the initial cost of a decent level e-cig and juice on prescription would be quite heavy on the taxpayer, it is feasible that a large amount of people would certainly aim to receive such prescriptions straight away, the long term savings on treatment for smoking related illnesses are huge, and in comparison to many other prescribed drugs, (patented at huge expense), they would actually fall amongst the best value for money prescriptions available. The purchasing power large pharmacies (or if all went to plan the NHS as a whole) would have over an unpatented product in a world market would ensure far better value for money than for a single supplier of a patented drug for example.
Sure, over time the population would age bringing it’s own expense, but surely we value life above all else?
What could be done as a middle-ground however, is for e cigarettes to be sold in hospital shops and more modern e-cigarettes to be marketed and sold in pharmacies on a mass scale and endorsed by the NHS or PHE in some way. Stigma removed instantly. That is the gateway to prescriptions. In fact, sales of e-cigarettes in pharmacies (like supermarkets) have been relatively stable for the last few years while vaping prevalence has increased. Why? See the article of a few months ago on what Supermarkets stock. Neither have moved forward with the times.
This all should of course been pretty much main news. We are talking about the main public health body of a leading nation declaring with evidence based facts how we should strive to save or extend millions of peoples’ lives. But it barely made the central pages of many newspapers. We can debate why all day, to be fair Kim Kardashian probably had some cellulite on her right butt-cheek that day.
Written by ELFC content creator Alex Blatherwick
Further reading: Vaping Advocacy - Who Do I Care?