The UK Government and the Electronic Cigarette
ECD: In the UK now the government is talking about regulating electronic cigarettes, they have admitted it can save lives, I think in their consultation document they estimated several hundred, but they want to call it a medicine. Now, do you think this is good news or bad news?
Chris: I don't see why it needs to be called a medicine. I don't see why it can't just be regarded as a tobacco product I guess.The tobacco products aren't really regulated.
I think it does need to be regulated properly, to be honest, because people have to know what they are getting, there has to be some sort of standard. It's a new product, there are all kinds of different ones coming out from China, people don't know what they are getting. I am concerned that because it delivers nicotine at some point a child might pick up one of the capsules and bite into it and, I don't know, get a deadly dose. I don't know how the chemistry works with it if that's possible or not, but there needs to be some kind of regulation with any products like that, really, cigarettes are a bit of a different case.
My concern is that I think at the moment they just want to get them off the market, and once they are off the market you might find it very difficult to get them back on there because there is going to be a lot of lobbying against them. I don't know they will necessarily look at good science when regulating them I think they will go along with the kind of precautionary principle which is what Finland have said they are going to do, I mean Finland has just announced that if any safe or safer tobacco product came on the market in the future they would not allow it, they would just let people keep smoking cigarettes.
The whole movement is very much opposed to tobacco harm reduction, has been for thirty years. So, I think they'd be crazy to ban them but I think there is at least a 50:50 chance of that happening. So in answer to your question, I don't know, I guess it does need to be regulated, it needs to have some kind of kite mark for safety or whatever. I don't know what the process of regulation involves, if it necessarily has to be taken off the market. If it has to be called a medicine - I don't know about that.