Parliament Welcomes eCigarette Prescription Plan
UK politicians have welcomed the news that electronic cigarettes might be available on prescription. Following the announcement, debates were held in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. While concerns were raised, support for vaping remains largely positive within the Palace of Westminster.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth MP tabled an urgent question to ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if he would address the House of Commons with a statement on the Government’s announcement that e-cigarettes will be available on prescription.
Minister for Vaccines and Public Health Maggie Throup MP told him that action against smoking was at the heart of the mission to level up and become smokefree by 2030. She believes a licensed product would enable e-cigarettes available on prescription and would give health professionals greater confidence on their use, but if a product was put to the MHRA today there could be an 18 to 24-month process for that product to be licensed.
“We are quite a long way from any e-cigarette being licensed and provided as a prescription medicine,” she said. “The Government supported the use of e-cigarettes as a gateway process to stopping smoking.”
Responding, Jon Ashworth MP welcomed the announcement and asked for a timeframe when the Minister will provide more details on having a licensed product and when to expect the first prescriptions for e-cigarettes to be issued.
Bob Blackman MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, also welcomed the announcement and reiterated that it was one of the keys asks originally contained in the last Tobacco Control Plan in 2017.
Mr Blackman led this week’s backbench debate on recommendations for the upcoming Tobacco Control Plan.
Of course, not all voices were positive. Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate feels the move is “encouraging and giving the green light” to teens who might be interested in taking up vaping.
Lord Kamall told him: “Conversations I’ve had with the MHRA and others, at the moment looking at the evidence in the UK there is no evidence in the UK that young non-smokers are adopting or taking up smoking e-cigarettes. Most users of e-cigarettes are using it as a pathway away from cigarettes.”
Lord Vaux of Harrowden told the Lords that concerns remain about e-liquid flavours and colourful packaging and was informed that these would be considered as part of the debate on the new Tobacco Control Plan.
Fortunately for current and future vapers buying their products from vape shops, these considerations are not planned to be extended to regular products, restrictions on flavours are only likely to apply to prescribed kits.
Earl Cathcart rounded off a largely positive discussion by telling his peers that “I used to smoke over 50 cigarettes a day but since 2014 I transferred to using e-cigarettes and I haven’t had a puff of tobacco since. And I’ve found my health and breathing so much better now so surely this is a very good thing, it should be encouraged.”
With a product that is licensed and available for doctors to prescribe, politicians anticipate it will encourage GPs to be enthusiastic about tobacco harm reduction and promote a greater level of belief in smokers that vaping works as a quit tool.