Retailers have given mixed reactions to news that the UK medicines regulator has awarded a licence to an e-cigarette for the first time, which could pave the way for vaping products to be prescribed on the NHS.

The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has awarded the licence to Nicovations Ltd, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, for its rechargeable e-cigarette, e-Voke. This means that e-cigarette prescriptions are now a reality.

Jon Powell, owner of The Newsagent in Newport, said: “We’ve gradually seen sales of our e-cigarettes go down because every shop here is selling them now. If people can pick these up on prescription, it will dilute this further.”

However, Jai Singh of MJ’s Local in Sheffield, said: “If someone was offered an e-cigarette free on prescription they’d be mad not to try it. But I still think people will stick to certain brands.”

Nicovations was previously granted a licence from the MHRA for its Voke nicotine inhaler in 2014.

A statement from the company read: “We are now reviewing the commercialisation and consumer resonance of the e-Voke offer.”