THE Department of Health has given the go-ahead for ecigarettes to be prescribed on the NHS, with one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies in line to be the first supplier.
E-Voke, the ecigarette produced by British American Tobacco, has been granted a licence by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK medicines regulator, that allows it to be marketed as a smoking cessation device.
They cost about £20 and replacement cartridges are about £10 a week. A week’s supply of nicotine patches and chewing gum costs between £10 and £13.
One in 20 Scots uses e-cigs but BMA Scotland have backed a ban on them in public places and sale to under-18s.
Dr Andrew Thomson, a GP in Tayside and a member of the BMA’s Scottish Council, said: “Further research is needed to learn more about the long-term effects of electronic cigarettes to uncover whether they are an effective and safe way of reducing tobacco harm.”
BMA Scotland said it was up to individual GPs to decide whether to prescribe e-cigarettes to patients.
Dr Jean Turner, a patron of the Scotland Patients Association, said she would prescribe them if she was still a GP.
She said: “If you spend money now helping people getting off cigarettes, it will save them a lot of misery in the long term and save the NHS money treating people with vascular and lung disease.”
Christopher B. Taub