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
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!