The proposed licensing of e-cigarettes is part of a “harm reduction” approach to smoking which is not supported by our medical colleagues in Europe or the US (Regulator paves way for NHS e-cigarette prescriptions in England, 29 October). It threatens to perpetuate the inhaling habit, and to prolong nicotine addiction into another generation. This is the holy grail of a tobacco industry that has systematically defrauded the public for decades in marketing its deadly products, and is now busily purchasing e-cigarette manufacturers, funding cannabis development and acquiring pharmaceutical and biotech companies, in an attempt to align itself with the legitimate pharmaceutical industry and clean up its image.

Grotesquely, it is buying into treatments for the diseases it causes, while still vigorously promoting lethal tobacco sales across the globe. In the UK, it has funded the Institute of Economic Affairs, to which many Tory MPs have strong links, and which has for years opposed so-called “nanny state” interventions designed to improve our public health.

The NHS has systematically disinvested from proven methods of tobacco control, handing it to local authorities who are in no position to effectively fund it. The political ambivalence to effective tobacco control at the highest level is there for all to see and we should not, as physicians, be aligning ourselves with the forces of darkness.

Philip Barber

Consultant respiratory physician, Manchester

Source: The proposed medicinal licensing of e-cigarettes is grotesque | Letters

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