UK Government: Electronic Cigarettes Save Lives & Money

A hand protrudes from a life saving ring.

It’s official: non-regulated nicotine products such as the electronic cigarette save lives.

Or to be specific, it can extend smokers’ lives by 3.59 years.

The estimate is based on the assessed value of users making a successful quit attempt using the electronic cigarette.

The government assumes that the number of people quitting will be the same as for NRT products, i.e. around 5%.

It’s Safer

The MHRA document makes no specific statement that electronic cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes.

However, it’s difficult to believe that the MHRA would consider licencing a product which they would believe to be as harmful as regular cigarettes.

Furthermore, the document links the aim of tobacco harm reduction to the need to have a licensed and regulated electronic cigarette on the market. Specifically, that nicotine products should have:

“an extension of use to include both substitution and partial substitution of smoking with NRT of smoking with NRT in those not currently intending to make a successful quit attempt.” (Consultation Letter MLX p.20.)

Translation: If you can’t or don’t want to quit nicotine, you should use an electronic cigarette (or something similar)!

This is a clear admission that electronic cigarettes are safer than cigarettes.

Saving Money

The same document also believes that licensing the products would save money for the NHS.

There will be additional benefit to the NHS as smoking reduction and quitting will see a reduction in hospital admissions for smoking related illness. This will see a release of cash spent on these treatments and a reallocation of resource to other treatments that will have further health benefits. (Consultation Letter MLX p.28.)

i.e. E Cigarettes = more people quitting/cutting down = less money spent on smoking diseases

(The savings are nonsensical, unfortunately, because they don’t take into account cigarette taxes paid and the gainings from pensioners dying early.)

Passive Smoking

The document also suggests there would be an additional health benefit of reduced passive smoking if the electronic cigarette were legalised.

If additional people use smoke-free licensed NRT products there is more chance of a successful quit attempt and this will reduce those exposed to smoke; passive smokers. This will bring about additional benefits to the NHS and using the Value of Preventing a Casualty, we can estimate an additional benefit in avoiding a life lost from passive smoking at approximately £1,500,000. (Consultation Letter MLX p.28.)

i.e. Electronic Cigarettes = More People Quitting = Less People Dying of Passive Smoking

(Incidentally we at the Ashtray blog are not convinced about the dangers of passive smoking.)


There are a number of worries people have. We are particularly concerned with one and two below.

1. Availability will become limited – possibly only available in pharmacies.

2. Making something that smokers enjoy a medicine. If smokers are allowed to use the vastly more dangerous cigarettes why should the nanny state tell them they are not allowed to use it recreationally?

3. That this represents a sneaky attempt to pass control of the e-cigarette market to pharmeceutical companies. (UK Moves To Give Electronic Cigarettes to Pharmaceutical Industry)

4. Choice will become limited. (Is Britain about to ban the e-cigarette? on Smokles.)

5. That electronic cigarettes will be banned. (E Cigarettes could be taken off the market on Velvet Glove Iron Fist – points out that Snus, the safest form of chewing tobacco, is illegal in the UK despite huge evidence that it has cut cancer rates in Sweden.)

Let us know if you have any more concerns!

Ready to switch? Visit the Electronic Cigarette Store.

7 thoughts on “UK Government: Electronic Cigarettes Save Lives & Money”

  1. It is not regulation, it is the type of regulation that is of concern.

    At the start you say "non-regulated nicotine products such as the electronic cigarette save lives"

    E-cigarettes are Regulated. A number of regulations are in place already under consumer law. To give the impression that these products are unregulated (as option 3 in the MHRA consultation says) is not strctly true.

    The issue here is whether the e-cig comes under medicinal regulation or remains under consumer regulation.

    Regulation for safety and quality are fine. The ones in place may need fine tuning or a new category for e-cigs may need to be created but regulating as a medicine is a completly different thing.

  2. Pingback: » Leaked Letter: MHRA decision made before consultation - Ashtray Blog: An Electronic Cigarette Blog

  3. I have made my own formal and polite response to Helen Wale, I have also alerted the Electronic Cigarette Company of this letter.

    I find it disgraceful that the MHRA consultation has been a joke, and that there are moves to ban electronic cigarettes. As a user myself I would be outraged to see an avenue of nicotine use denied to users of electronic cigarettes. I will not be pushed back into the ghetto of smoking tobacco and feel it is a moral right to make the choice as to what chemicals I put into my body.

  4. I stopped 4 months ago using E Cigs, whereas before numerous attempts failed. I still use E Cigs but not much – an occasional couple of puffs. One day I easily went a whole day without even this, thus I do not think E Cigs are especially addictive. And Nicotine is a close relative of vitamin B3, itself used in many medicines, and thereby often medically beneficial. Its also present in vegetables, etc. There are other factors. I consider the Government the biggest Drug Dealer in the UK due to Taxes on tobacco and booze. Financially far greater as regards benefit than Heroin or Cocainne dealers. So we have the NHS trying to stop smoking whereas their superiors are directly involved in wishing there were more to increase “profits”. Then we have the vested interests of the Pharms – often closely linked to the NHS. Its no surprise the latter prefer conventional NRT rather than E Cigs. E Cigs threaten the Nicorettes of this world. Finally the red herring about costs of treating smokers in the NHS. Each smoker who dies early is effectively a saving for the NHS. Each pensioner who dies early due to smoking saves a lot in State Pension and probably Benefits. I suspect Duty from tobacco more than compensates the NHS for costs of smoking disease treatment. There is a lot of politics here,much being hidden. And I understand still 20 percent of NHS staff smoke. I am glad to have stopped the wretched habit.

    1. Hi Louis, thanks for your comments. It seems like you can now use nicotine as you wish, rather than because of addiction, which is a great achievement.

      I think there are vested interests which are threatened by the success of the electronic cigarette. Hopefully, the popularity of the device combined with a growing understanding of its benefits will stop those vested interests from banning it!

  5. Michael Challender

    Hi I was wondering if you could help me out. My friend and l are thinking about getting into the e cig business. I was wondering if you had any idea how many specific e cig shops there are in the UK. Thanks

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