The Government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced it will regulate all nicotine-containing products (NCPs), so that “people using these products have the confidence that they are safe, are of the right quality and work”.
Jeremy Mean, the MHRA's group manager of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said regulation was necessary to make safe andeffective products available for people who smoke can help them cut down or quit.
He explained: “Reducing the harms of smoking to smokers and those around them is a key government health priority.
“Some NCPs are already licensed and the government's decision to work towards medicines licensing for all these products is designed to deliver quality products that will support smokers to cut down and to quit.
Mean added: “Our research has shown that existing electronic cigarettes and other nicotine containing products on the market are not good enough to meet this public health priority.
E-cigarette makers remained bullish in the wake of the announcement. Adrian Everett, CEO at E-Lites manufacturer Zandera, said regulation was proof that the MHRA recognised the overwhelming scientific consensus that e-cigarettes are saving lives by helping smokers switch away from tobacco.
He said: “The decision announced today provides a framework that will enable good quality products to be widely available. It’s not about banning products that some people find useful, it’s about making sure that smokers have an effective alternative that they can rely on to meet their needs.”
However, Everett argued that – with the Royal College of Physicians claiming that the lives of five million p eople in the UK could be saved through e-cigarettes – no credible health regulator could make it harder for people to buy or use them.
“From our perspective, comparing the safety of e-cigarettes to tobacco is the difference between playing football and juggling hand-grenades.
“Anyone who makes scare statements that e-cigarettes are not safe needs to come up with evidence. Otherwise they are ignoring the academic consensus that e-cigarettes are very safe, and they are simply frightening smokers to stay with tobacco.”