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E-cigarettes on the NHS, shhh don't tell anyone

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E-cigarettes will be prescribed on the NHS for the first time in the New Year but ministers are said to have tried to keep the move quiet over fears that GPs would be overrun by people demanding them.


Doctors will soon be able to hand out the device to smokers who want to quit, a move that will reportedly cost the NHS in the region of £20 per kit and £10 a week for each patient's cartridges.


But public health minister Jane Ellison is said to have hoped that the government could keep the news under wraps until the e-cigarettes are available via prescription in 2016.

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On the nhs ? But the government still collects taxes on cigs.

Am I missing something..


Perhaps they have plans to increase the tax on IRL ciggies so they can fund this latest NHS giveaway :)

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How stupid. They contain nicotine, nicotine is the addictive part of a ciggy so when the free prescriptions end, they will probably buy cigarettes. Well done whoever thought up this stupid legislation.

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E-cigs continue to work even if the user reduces the nicotine level to zero in their liquid. There are many aspects to smoking, the most difficult for many is the habit formed over many years. The addiction to nicotine can be overcome in days whereas breaking the habit is far more difficult. If that habitual behaviour can be made less harmful then it's worthwhile.

Edited by citizenB
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You mentioned patches earlier. The difference with other forms of quitting aids is that e-cigs supposed to be a quitting aid, are being marketed as todays in thing and promoted in a way that makes them cool so people who have never smoked will give them a go and then get addicted on the nicotine.

Patches could never be an 'in thing' so will never be taken up as such.

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All independent and unbiased research is pointing towards them not being taken up by non smokers but I don't see that as the issue one way or the other on the question of them being supplied through the NHS. If a few pounds spent on any method can save thousands of pounds in the future then it's worthwhile. Seen in terms of harm reduction I think it's going to prove extremely cost effective.

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Give me a little time and I will find them. As I'm sure you understand, it's much easier to find the well backed and much quoted Daily Mail sort of stuff but I will dig out links.

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Because e-cigs are cheap and will save money in the longer term. People who die from smoking related disease do not go from healthy to dead overnight. They are a heavy drain on NHS resources for a long time - I know, my mother was one of them. If the use of e-cigs can free up those resources then that has to be a good thing. In terms of policy this isn't about providing smokers with free nicotine which is what seems to being getting people annoyed, it's about stopping them being a drain on the NHS.

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They can be bought OTC, just as patches can which are also available through the NHS. There's not really any extra money involved, only a case of which method a health professional chooses to prescribe. At present it's a choice of patches or a drug (champix?) and in future there will be another option. If a patient is offered e-cigs it will be instead of something they would have been given anyway. The OTC prices are such that getting them through the NHS is likely to be attractive only to those who don't pay for prescriptions - maybe this is the very demographic the move is intended to target.



It isn't an ethical debate about whether people who make 'wrong' lifestyle choices should get anything. It's a public health decision worked on cost benefit, not any different to giving out advice, support and gym vouchers to those who could get off their fat behinds and stop stuffing their faces with junk food. I am devoid of any empathy for the obese but I understand the public need to do something about it. If someone invented zero calorie burger and fries I'd understand them being prescribed or subsidised to save the need for much more expensive intervention in the future.

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