England looks set to become the first nation in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes, following a landmark decision from the English health authorities. The government’s drive for a smoke-free England by 2030 spurs this drive, making the country a global leader in progressive anti-smoking and e-cigarette policy. The government previously advised smokers to pick up e-cigarettes to kick their habits during 2017’s Stoptober initiative. However, a further development from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) could turn this advice into action going forward. New government guidance, published on October 29th 2021, paves the way for unprecedented action to help smokers protect their health by switching to e-cigarettes. To support people trying to quit smoking through the NHS, the MRHA recently invited submissions from vaping providers. If and when the MRHA receive and approve a viable e-cigarette solution, consumers in need could get their hands on an e-cigarette courtesy of the National Health Service. The Risks of Smoking and the Benefits of Vaping Ultimately, this latest decision says just as much about the immediate risks of smoking as the potential benefits of vaping. Smoking took the lives of 64,000 Brits in 2019 alone, and smoking-related illnesses continue to wreak havoc on families up and down the country. In fact, smoking tragically remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the UK. With a greater focus on diseases and medicine in the wake of recent health crises, this drive to help the public access e-cigarettes should come as no surprise. In light of the MRHA’s decision to invite submissions, the UK’s health minister Sajid Javid stated his belief that “licensed e-cigarettes prescribed on the NHS have the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country”. These “stark disparities” include age gaps in smoking habits, as Brits aged 18-24 remain the highest yet fastest falling percentage of smokers in the UK. A recent ONS survey found that over 25% of this age group smoked in 2011, while only 16% smoked in 2019. Other disparities include the regional and economic divides in smoking habits: smoking rates in affluent Southern areas like Richmond upon Thames average as low as 8%, while Northern regions like Kingston upon Hull and Blackpool average over 22% and 23 % respectively. As the MRHA themselves suggest with their recent decision, e-cigarettes offer an effective way to bridge this divide and address the health crises it exacerbates. Official Medical Advice Key medical advice tells us that, while nothing is risk-free, vaping brings a fraction of the risks of smoking. According to the British Lung Foundation, this fraction could be as small as one in twenty. By cutting out the two main toxins created by smoking, tar and carbon monoxide, e-cigarettes offer an inherently safer nicotine solution. Furthermore, they offer an accessible route towards an addiction-free lifestyle, as UK e-cigarette solutions like Red Vape provide non-addictive nicotine-free vapes. In Britain alone, 1.5 million people have already used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, and the MRHA’s unprecedented decision opens the door for millions more. However, before the NHS starts prescribing vaping equipment to smokers, any MRHA submission must also meet the National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) approval. NICE, an independent public body that serves England and Wales’s health services, audits the safety, effectiveness, and financial value of new treatments for prescriptions. Their judgement, and the future mainstreaming of medical e-cigarettes, may tighten the health restrictions around e-cigarettes or may even increase the maximum permitted quantities of nicotine permitted in British vapes. Regardless of the outcome, the MHRA’s decision sheds new light on the e-cigarette industry, as one aligned with healthcare professionals to change the way Britain consumes nicotine.