January 21, 2022
“Vaping revolution” will be part of health secretary Sajid Javid’s plans to increase life expectancy for the poorest as England is set to become the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes to help smokers quit smoking.
Javid will announce plans to address the root causes in his health disparities white paper set to be released this spring. It is understood this will include a “vaping revolution” that will allow GPs to prescribe e-cigarettes on the NHS soon, Times reported this week.
He believes it is a “moral outrage” that England’s richest people are living for up to a decade longer on average than the poorest.
Last year the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency published updated guidance that paved the way for medicinally licensed e-cigarette products to be prescribed for tobacco smokers who want to stop. However, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and some of the harmful chemicals found in normal cigarettes.
The plans will be overseen by Javed Khan, former head of the children’s charity Barnardo’s, who will lead a review on smoking. The habit kills 64,000 people a year in England.
Under the white paper plans, doctors would decide on a case-by-case basis when it would be appropriate to prescribe an e-cigarette to a patient. Among the other measures are efforts to improve the diagnosis rates of the biggest killers among the poor, such as cancer and cardiovascular health.
The difference in expected lifespan between rich and poor areas has doubled since the early 2000s, a report by the King’s Fund think tank shows. In Westminster male life expectancy has risen from 77.3 to 84.7 years; a jump of 7.4 years. But for men in Blackpool the figure increased from 72 to only 74.1 years, a rise of 2.1 years — meaning the gap has widened from 5.3 to 10.7 years in less than 20 years.
By 2030, the government wants Britain to be free of smoking, which is one of the main causes of the gap. In Blackpool, 23.4 per cent of people smoke compared with just eight per cent in Richmond.
Public health experts have raised concerns about young people becoming hooked on vaping despite never having smoked, with tobacco companies themselves also creating the devices.