Certain types of e-cigarettes could be prescribed on the NHS in the future, after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved a licence for the e-Voke brand.
This brand of e-cigarette is the first smoking cessation device to be granted a licence. While the products are not yet available to the public, NHS organisations will be able to offer a prescription of the devices to patients wishing to stop smoking when they become available this year. No decision has been made by NHS organisations on whether the products will be prescribed.
'It is good news that an electronic cigarette has received a licence from the medicines regulator, as we know that they have been effective in helping smokers quit,' said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health.
A report published by Public Health England in August found that smoking cessation aids such as e-cigarettes were approximately 95% less damaging to health than smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products. The review report also showed that there is negligible evidence to suggest that the rise in the use of e-cigarettes was leading non-smokers and children to smoking.
'In due course, when they are available on the market, smokers will be able to buy them over the counter and could have them prescribed,' added Ms Arnott. 'The cost of prescribing them as part of a quit attempt will be far lower than treating the diseases caused by smoking.'
From the beginning of 2016, all e-cigarettes containing more than 20mg/ml nicotine require medicine licensing from the MHRA, while those containing less than 20mg/ml of nicotine will be classified as tobacco-containing products and regulated under the provisions of the European Tobacco Products Directive.