Smokers who want to quit with e-cigarettes could be put off if they’re prescribed by doctors, experts say.
Users who are thinking of using the devices as a stop-smoking tool might not experiment with vaping if they start to be treated as a medical product.
Industry experts explained that because smokers don’t see their nicotine addiction as a disease, if patients starting picking up e-cigarettes at a pharmacy or via a medical prescription, it could have a “detrimental effect” on their success.
Not only that, it could potentially make them less available on the high street.
The warning given to UK politicians at a Commons Science and Technology Committee comes after Public Health England said in a report earlier this year there was “compelling evidence” e-cigarettes should be made available on the NHS due to their success in helping people stop smoking.
The body said e-cigarettes are at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and suggested they could be helping 20,000 smokers quit each year.
But vaping experts believe the move could be a mistake.
Fraser Cropper, chairman of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, explained to MPs: “We believe that would be hugely disempowering, if you gave the responsibility to a GP, to a prescribed product, that the vaper wouldn’t have the same engagement, the same empowerment.
“It will also potentially limit the range of products.”
John Dunne, director of the UK Vaping Industry Association, added: “Most smokers don’t see themselves as being sick. It is not a disease, it’s an addiction to a substance.
“They also like the fact this is a consumer-driven innovation, it doesn’t feel like a medicine, and I think pushing it down that route would have a detrimental effect.”