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i Editor's Letter: E-cigarettes on the NHS



A campaign has begun for the prescribing of e-cigarettes on the NHS, to  make them more accessible to poor smokers. A new study into e-cigs, by the leading expert Professor Robert West, has concluded that they are much more effective at helping smokers to quit than nicotine gum,  patches or (for the sadists) willpower.  Professor West says that it would be “perfectly reasonable” for GPs to be allowed to prescribe e-cigarettes, once they are licensed as medicines – which will take another two years – and that doing so could “substantially improve public health”.

He believes there to be no evidence  that the popularity of e-cigs is  normalising smoking again – the fear behind the Welsh Government’s proposed ban on “vaping” in public.

In the 60 years since the British  Medical Journal published that critical Doll-Hill paper establishing the link with cancer, smoking has declined among all age and income groups, with the exception of young women. I have misgivings about the role played by big tobacco companies in e-cigs’ development and licensing. But given the catastrophic human suffering caused by smoking and the cost to the NHS of treatment, this new study is required reading for our health chiefs and politicians.


There are no “good” zombies, but some zombies are fitter than others. The infected in 28 Days Later, for example, instead of shambling about like drunks, had a terrifying lick of speed across open ground.

So, if we are to have a “zombie Parliament” for the next year – as the Coalition runs out of policies to make law, and the parties spend their time squabbling in order to draw dividing lines ahead of next May’s general election – it would be better if the zombies were the new, fast ones, rather than the old-fashioned undead (lethargic, weak).

Perhaps we can help. The Government is struggling to find things to keep Parliament busy for the next 11 months. So what would you do with 650 MPs for a year? Is there sensible legislation that they haven’t considered? Some non-parliamentary endeavour to occupy them? Your suggestions, please, serious and daft, to i@independent.co.uk

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