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FILE PHOTO: A woman exhales vapour from an e-cigarette outside the offices of British e-cigarette manufacturer Totally Wicked in Blackburn, northern England March 19, 2015. To match Special Report ECIGARETTES-REGULATIONS/ REUTERS/Phil Noble TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

LONDON (Reuters) – Health regulators in England have paved the way for e-cigarettes to be prescribed by doctors for the first time in any country to help people stop smoking tobacco, Britain’s health ministry said on Friday.

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes will be able to submit their products for checks and possibly regulatory approval for use in the country’s National Health Service, the ministry said in a statement.

Smoking rates have fallen to record lows in Britain but killed almost 64,000 people in England in 2019.

Reviews have shown that regulated e-cigarettes are not risk-free but are less harmful than smoking, the ministry said.

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