UK Policy Committee Slams MHRA Over E-Cigarette Consultation

The UK Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has issued a withering criticism of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)’s consultation letter calling for the regulation of electronic cigarettes as a medicine, pointing out out that there is insufficient evidence that the electronic cigarette poses a risk to public health.

The MHRA, while acknowledging the device has the potential to save lives, has recently called for the regulation (by themselves!) of e-cigarettes in a move which is likely to lead to a de-facto ban on the device. (In contrast to MHRA claims that the devices are not regulated, Trading Standards currently oversees the safety and supply of these products in the UK.)

However, the RPC’s opinion issued on the letter criticised the MHRA on a number of grounds, including the following:

  • there was insufficient evidence that the device poses any risk to health;
  • the MHRA has failed to consider how their regulation will affect tobacco products;
  • the MHRA has failed to provide a robust assessment of costs and benefits;
  • the MHRA has failed to state the legal case for regulation;
  • the MHRA has failed to estimate the impact upon competition, and the implications of raising new barriers to entry.

Key Quotes:


The RCP argues that the MHRA does not:

“provide sufficient evidence to suggest that there is a sufficient risk to public health from currently unlicensed NCPs which would justify the future regulation of these products.”


As we said in our own response, regulating e-cigarettes on the basis that they contain nicotine and affect the metabolism could affect tobacco. The RCP agrees, stating:

“…it is not clear from the consultation letter how this will affect tobacco products (e.g. cigarettes), which also contain nicotine and hence will be within the scope for these new regulations.”

Impact on Competition

The RCP stated that the consultation had failed to take into account the effect of the regulation on competition.

“The IA [Impact Assessment] does not provide an appropriate assessment of the impact of the proposed regulations on competition…”

“The regulations are likely to create additional barriers to entry…”

Who are the RCP?

The RCP (link) are a government advisory committee set up in 2009 to provide “strong and effective external scrutiny throughout the policy making process,” which they certainly seem to be doing so here.

Full Opinion

For their full opinion on the MHRA consultation, see The Regulatory Policy Committee opinion: Consultation on regulation of nicotine containing products.

Thanks Kate!

Thanks to Kate from Vapers Network for forwarding the RCP’s opinion to me!

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16 thoughts on “UK Policy Committee Slams MHRA Over E-Cigarette Consultation

  1. That’s fantastic news – and well done Kate for pointing it out.

    I just wonder though – this is an advisory committee – does what they say have any regulatory weight – or can the MHRA just ignore it?

  2. It’s great news isn’t it. Hopefully this will stop the pharm company nicotine grab and acknowledge that nicotine is a lifestyle choice rather than a health problem. Control freaks have caused far too many problems already.

    I honestly don’t know whether this committee can stop the consultation Phil or how much weight they have. However, the MHRA are going to get their arses well kicked in court if they carry on, I’m pretty sure of that.

  3. For the large number of smokers who would like to quit inhaling tar and all the other noxious components of cigarettes we think that the electronic cigarettes as a whole are a life saver. Please consentrate on banning conventional cigarettes before trying to legislate on e-cigarettes or will the government lose out on too much revenue from cigarettes??? seems to me like there are too many high fliers on the take rather than trying to ban conventional cigarettes which would benefit society in general and stop future generations succuming to the hateful side effects and addiction of nicotine at an early age. I am 55 and wish that i had never smoked.

  4. Anti-smoker, there has been no evidence that the device attracts children. The price is expensive for children, you generally need a credit card to buy one and in any case, half the attraction of smoking is the danger.

  5. Chris – I hear you! We support the right of smokers to smoke if that’s what they want to do, but it’s great to have an alternative if they don’t want to!

  6. I got very confused when reading this because of the use of the initials RCP, which stands for Royal College of Physicians, alongside the RPC, Regulatory Policy Committee. I didn’t expect the RCP to resist the MHRA on this issue because they want all tobacco regulated!

  7. New User Of E Fags
    I have been smoking for 46 years and have recently discovered the electronic cigarette, I have to say I believe it to be a great substitute to the expensive alternative.When I started smoking it was socially acceptable, almost required. Today I am an outcast, hooked on nicotine with no place to hide.I feel that the electronic cigarette gives me the the answer to my issue to be acceptable and fullfil my nicotine addiction.

    I hope the PC crowd can accept my argument. Knowing them they will not, and will continue on their quest for extinction of all those who do not conform to their role model, grey uniform people who never speak the truth of what they feel or think.

    Happy nicotine electonic cigarette

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