Read Time:1 Minute, 9 Second
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is inviting manufacturers to submit products for approval to be prescribed.
It could mean England becomes the first country in the world to prescribe vapes as a medical product.
There has been much debate over the years about whether e-cigarettes should be used for this purpose.
E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes.
They do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.
The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.
A medically licensed e-cigarette would have to pass even more rigorous safety checks than those required for them to be sold commercially.
E-cigarettes are the most popular aid used by smokers trying to quit, with more than one in four smokers relying on them – more than those who use nicotine-replacement therapy products such as patches or gum.
But apart from being used in a number of pilot schemes, they have not been available on prescription.
However, in 2017 the government started promoting them as part of its annual Stoptober campaign.
It is estimated that about 3.6 million people use e-cigarettes – most of them ex-smokers.
Almost 64,000 people died from smoking in England in 2019.