UNLIKE traditional cessation methods, vaping is empowering. It represents a market-based, user driven, public health insurgency. That is why it is so successful. No taxpayers’ money has been spent, yet smokers are stopping, switching, and cutting down through the use of vape products. Every day Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) members are helping people switch from smoking to vaping. As Professor Riccardo Polosa, Director of the Institute for Internal and Emergency Medicine of the University of Catania in Italy, has said: “A very good vape shop employee can be better than a trained smoking cessation counsellor.”

It was therefore concerning to see the new Public Health England report referring to medicinal regulation for vape products and making vape products available on NHS prescription ("Call to sell e-cigarettes in English hospitals", The Herald, February 6). Far from encouraging vaping the IBVTA is concerned that this would have the opposite effect.

The experience of IBVTA members across the UK is that the smokers who do the best in terms of cutting down or switching completely are the smokers who take personal responsibility for their own start-up costs. They feel empowered because they have done it themselves and are therefore more likely to persevere with vaping.

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Medicinal products or prescribing vape products on the NHS limits choice, making a smoker reliant on a specific brand or shop. Critically, prescriptions place the responsibility and power for someone switching into the hands of a GP or smoking cessation professional. This is hugely disempowering.

The IBVTA accepts that in certain circumstances such as a smoker being homeless or in receipt of benefits, it would be sensible for a local Stop Smoking Service to provide vouchers to cover the start-up costs of vaping.

Gillian Golden,

Chief Executive, Independent British Vape Trade Association,

Audley House,

13 Palace Street,

London.