E-cigarettes: English health bosses want to prescribe them on the NHS. But what about Wales?

Credit: ITV Wales

Battle lines are being drawn on the e-cigarette debate. Government Vs opposition, charity Vs charity and now it seems it's Wales Vs England.

A report, commissioned for Public Health England, has heaped praise on the electronic devises saying they could be a "game changer in public health." That's in sharp contrast to Welsh public health officials who want them included in the smoking ban.

Public Health England are also talking about GPs prescribing the devises to patients to help quit smoking.

Before that can happen it'll need the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to sanction their use for medical purposes. That decision is expected soon. When I asked the Welsh Government if we could see Welsh GPs prescribing them I was told it was "inappropriate to comment further ahead of the MHRA announcing their decision."

You can read the reasons behind the Welsh Government's proposed ban here but the independent author of the report, Professor Ann McNeill from King's College London, disputes some of it. Her report found:

  • No evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers

  • E-cigarettes could potentially mean 76,000 fewer deaths every year in England - down from 80,000 deaths a year.

  • E-cigarettes could be contributing to the decline in smoking amongst adults and youths

Opposition parties are already using the report as evidence in their argument against a ban:

But Welsh Government shows no indication of changing direction:

The reality is that public health officials can't decide if they are a good thing or a bad, but the evidence in favour of them is growing. Will it change Welsh plans? It seems not.