News Flash: Action on Smoking and Health Changes Tune on E-Cigarettes

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by: James Dunworth

Action on Smoking and Health

Some of us have been worried in the past about Action on Smoking and Health`s attitude towards electronic cigarette.

While admitting that e-cigarettes were probably much better than smoking, the anti-smoking group has always been keen to push nicotine cessation aids as a better alternative.

(NRT aids, while perfectly safe, have proved no more effective than cold turkey at helping smokers to quit.)

Now a new release by the group seems to show a change of heart.

The release argues that:

  • e-cigarettes are increasingly effective at delivering nicotine
  • there is `little real world evidence of harm` – as they correctly point out, any harm there is in needs to be compared to the massive long term harm caused by smoking
  • e-cigarettes should not be included in smoke-free laws
  • there is little evidence that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking
  • there is likely to be little or no harm to non-users

In addition, the group picked up on a point which we`ve been hammering on this blog for four years, and which smokers find obvious:

[the] ability [of e-cigarettes] to satisfy the “hand to mouth” behavioural component that is not
sufficiently addressed in more traditional nicotine replacement therapies.

Attitude towards Regulation of E-Cigarettes

Regulation

ASH continues to support regulation of e-cigarettes by the MHRA. Our concern, which is mirrored by many other retailers, is that legislation will take the form of a licensing which will effectively remove electronic cigarettes from the market and/or only allow electronic cigarettes to be sold on prescription or in pharmacies.

We also believe that current regulation, which is enforced by Trading Standards, is sufficient. (See: Who says e-cigarettes aren`t regulated?)

Other retailers have told us they are worried that the MHRA could follow the EU`s example and make e-cigarettes effectively useless by limiting the nicotine content to 0.4%. However, tobacco companies seem to be confident this won`t happen – today another large tobacco company bought up a large UK electronic cigarette retailer, following British Tobacco`s purchase not long ago.

Not everyone thinks regulation could be bad. When we interviewed Clive Bates, former director of Action on Smoking and Health and a strong supporter of tobacco harm reduction, he emphasised that there was `good regulation` as well as bad regulation. For example, good regulation could include tax advantages and the ability to market the e-cigarette more freely.

Incidentally, I can`t help thinking that Clive Bates might have influenced the current leadership of ASH!

For the full release click here!

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6 Responses to “News Flash: Action on Smoking and Health Changes Tune on E-Cigarettes”

  1. Joao Pargana February 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    One thing I’ll never understand is why the e-cig should be regulated as a medicine! I can undestand that ‘real’ medicines should be regulated: no one chooses to be ill, or to take this or that medicine. Therefore, safety measures must exist to protect those who take some drug, not because they like it or want to, but because they need to.
    Recreational use, however, is out of this league… no one has ever needed a prescription to buy cigarettes! In the past, we were given the freedom to start smoking, even knowing for certain what tobacco would do to us. Today, why can’t we have the same freedom, to choose an obviously safer alternative? Just because it might not be good to us? Really? ‘Might’? As a vaper, I didn’t need proof that vaping was 100% safe before I made the switch: much safer than cigarettes was fine with me. Because smoking, and later vaping, was my choice, and my choice alone.
    I started smoking in full knowledge of the risks involved. I switched to vaping because I didn’t feel like taking those risks anymore. I’m also aware that it might not be absolutely safe. It is, however, much safer than the alternative. And again, it’s my choice. why should those ‘holier-than-thou’ types (Who won’t have to start vaping if they don’t want to) have a problem with that?

  2. john October 29, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    Its nice to see a bit of common sense emerging from that sector, no?

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