Vaping enthusiasts worldwide are cheering a decision by British regulators granting a license to an e-cigarette – as a prescription to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.
The Guardian reported that "Britain's drug regulators have given the go-ahead for a British American Tobacco cigarette to be sold as a medicine for quitting smoking." The license is the first ever granted to an e-cigarette or vaping device in Britain for a specific medical use.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency there in the U.K. said in a statement that it wanted to "ensure licensed nicotine-containing products – including e-cigarettes – which make medicinal claims are available and meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy to reduce the harms from smoking."
Right now, the license only applies that that one specific device.
The decision follows an announcement in 2015 by Public Health England, a British executive branch agency, that e-cigarettes and vaping were "95 percent" safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes. Across the Atlantic, U.S. officials still refuse to endorse vaping or e-cigarettes as smoking cessation methods, however. American regulators insist that the devices have not been studied enough yet.
Still, health advocacy groups like the American Heart Association have said that vaping is a healthier alternative – at least compared to the effects of traditional cigarettes.
While it doesn't yet approve vaping for smoking cessation, the FDA does approve of several prescription and over-the-counter options that have been proven to help American smokers quit.