I understand that e-cigarettes are essentially a battery, heating element and cartridge containing nicotine and possibly other chemicals such as menthol . I believe they can either be disposable or purchased as a kit with refills .The presence of nicotine means they remain addictive, but according to a report published yesterday by Public Health England they are 95% safer than cigarettes. They remain banned in many countries and legislation even in the UK is inconsistent.
According to the latest figures 2.5 million adults in Britain now use e-cigarettes.This is termed “vaping”. The report suggests that this could be a way of encouraging people to quit cigarettes and proposes that e- cigarettes could be prescribed on the NHS.
It strikes me that rather than the NHS spending money on something that continues to be addictive, that individual smokers should be encouraged to change to e-cigarettes for their own health benefits at here own expense ( presumably little difference to the cost of cigarettes ), although I do realise that the NHS will benefit in the longer term. I also feel that we need to try to discourage non- smokers from taking up an addictive habit. I wonder if one way forward may be to make e-cigarettes a regulated medical device in some way. I do accept, however, that they should not be made any less available than tobacco.
The big question here is over how much the state should be involved in protecting the health of the public and over an individual’s right to choose. There are also questions concerning the governments revenue from tax and the morality of manufacturers profits from an addictive product.