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E-cigarettes will be prescribed in practices in 2016

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) will be prescribed in GP practices in the new year as part of smoking cessation measures, the Department of Health (DH) has confirmed.

The DH confirmed that an electronic cigarette product - the e-Voke made by British American Tobacco - has been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, meaning it can be prescribed by GPs alongside patches and chewing gum.

However, the government wanted to keep it quiet so that GPs aren't “overrun” by people wanting them, according to Sunday People newspaper.

A government source told them: “We didn't want to make a song and dance about it because GPs would be overrun by people demanding it. But this is something we've been pushing for.”

It is estimated to cost the NHS £20 per kit and £10 a week for each patient's cartridges.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: "We want to see a wide range of good quality e-cigarettes on the market including licensed products whose safety, quality and effectiveness are independently assured. We welcome the arrival of licensed products that can be prescribed alongside existing nicotine replacement therapies.”