A new scheme will be giving pregnant women free vapes in a bid to stop them smoking.
The e-cigarettes are being provided to women in London as part of Lambeth Council's 'stop smoking' service with the aim of reducing the harm that smoking causes to unborn babies and children, as well as allowing families to save money.
As reported by the MailOnline, Lambeth councillor Ben Kind spoke about the new service when asked what the London borough was doing to help reduce poverty, and claimed that it could save parents £2,000-a-year.
However, according to the NHS, very little is known about the harm which e-cigarettes, which also contain nicotine, can have on unborn babies.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported that Kind wrote of the new scheme: "The council is soon to start providing free vape products, as part of the stop smoking service, to smokers who are pregnant and/or are carers of young children.
"This is aimed at improving the health of the family and saving money in the process of approximately £2,000 per year per family.
"It is estimated over 3,000 households in Lambeth fall under the poverty line due to smoking and many of these households include children."
The news comes after a new report suggested that vaping is less harmful than smoking, which is something that Kind emphasised in the announcement. Although he also said that little research has been conducted into the effects of vaping in pregnancy.
"Effects of vaping on foetal development and pregnancy outcomes remain in particular need of research, including the effects of switching from smoking to vaping in the perinatal phase," Kind added in his report.
However, the NHS does not recommend pregnant women vape and instead suggests that those who smoke resort to patches and gum while expecting.
However, the service added: "But if you find using an e-cigarette helpful for quitting and staying smoke-free, it's much safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke."
The new scheme has not been without its critics, however, as Andrew Bush of Imperial College London's National Heart & Lung Institute said that Lambeth Council is 'playing with fire'.
"E-cigarettes have not been around for a long time," he said.
"We're still learning about these things. I would be really, really worried about this as being yet one more step saying: 'Okay, e-cigarettes are okay.'
'I'm sure the council is doing it with the best of motives - they're not in the pockets of the e-cigarette manufacturers.
"But, what are you encouraging women to inhale? What's the safety of these things?"
A Lambeth Council spokesperson told LadBible that smoking cigarettes is the 'leading risk factor' for pregnancy complications and can cause children to develop respiratory problems.
They continued: "Lambeth has well established specialist smoking cessation services for pregnant smokers which consist of counselling, behavioural support and the availability of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. We are now planning to support the use of e-cigarettes for women who choose that route as their preferred aid for quitting tobacco, since this is less harmful compared to smoking.
"We recognise that while it is best for pregnant smokers to stop smoking without continuing to use nicotine, if this is difficult, and if they choose to use e-cigarettes it can help them become smoke free."
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