The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) want to enforce regulations which they believe would ban every current electronic cigarette device in the UK today, ignoring a EU vote NOT to ban e-cigarettes last week. A Telegraph article may shed some light into the matter. Here’s what Jeremy Mean from the MHRA said:
… unlike standard nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as gums, patches and sprays, they offer “the cigarette experience” … Rituals such as having something to hold are very important in addiction … E-cigarettes may help some people more than standard NRT.
But that sounds positive. Let’s look at what Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) UK, who also want to ban e-cigarettes, say:
We cannot say they are 100 per cent safe because there isn’t enough evidence… But in comparison to tobacco products they are safer by several orders of magnitude.
Orders of magnitude generally means hundreds or thousands of times safer. That sounds good, especially when combined with ASH’s belief that e-cigarettes don’t harm non-vapers.
Amanda Sandford agrees that the potential of e‑cigarettes to reduce tobacco-related damage outweighs the risks, but “they are not a panacea”. “Our research shows that two thirds of people who try e‑cigarettes give them up – although we don’t know why.”
Give up what? Smoking, or nicotine altogether after switching? Still sounds pretty good compared to the 5% success rate smokers have when trying to quit smoking. But hang on:
There are also fears that e‑cigarettes could “renormalise” smoking and promote nicotine addiction.
This sounds like a reason to ban e-cigarettes, but ASH’s own research shows vaping is not a gateway to smoking for adults or children. Let’s look at why Jeremy Mean wants to ban e-cigarettes:
Our tests show that different products vary in how much nicotine they deliver…So some products may not help people regulate their nicotine cravings.
But electronic cigarettes are working for more than one million former smokers in the UK. And perhaps the fact they do work is because the government has NOT controlled how much nicotine vapers can have or which delivery devices they can use. Actually, the reason why no current device in the UK would be legal is because the MHRA wants every device to deliver a regulated dose of nicotine. (One company spent two million dollars and several years trying to build a device that would do just that and failed.) But researchers into smoking argue that smokers are different from users of other drugs because they take the amount they need. And the amount of nicotine that smokers (or vapers) need can vary depending on mood – and indeed on the smoker (or vaper). So if a device could be created that would deliver the same amount of nicotine with every dose, it would be a poor substitute for cigarettes/ecigarettes which vapers can use to control the amount of nicotine they have. Meanwhile, many vapers suspect that the real reason is to protect the pharmaceutical industry which subsidises the MHRA, provides their staff and pays ongoing fees to MHRA staff members: