Britain Tightening Regulations On E-Cigarettes
June 12, 2013

Britain Tightening Regulations On E-Cigarettes

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Britain's medicines regulator, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said this week that electronic cigarettes and similar products containing nicotine will be undergoing some stricter regulations in 2016.

MHRA said that in three years e-cigarettes will require a license, treating the vapor smokes the same way as other over-the-counter medicines. The regulator said the various varieties of e-cigarettes available are not good enough to meet the Government's public health priority of reducing harm from smoking.

"Reducing the harms of smoking to smokers and those around them is a key Government health priority. 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,” said Jeremy Mean, head of vigilance and risk management of medicines at the MHRA.

The UK Government said it decided that MHRA would regulate these products this way so people using them can have the confidence that they are safe.

“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," Mean added.

MHRA said the UK Government would be pushing for the European Union to create a Europe-wide legal position on nicotine-containing products (NCPs), which includes gums, patches, and mouth sprays. The European Commission said it expected the new legislation to be adopted in 2014 and for it to come into effect in the UK in 2016, which will allow time for manufacturers to ensure their products meet the safety, quality and efficacy requirements of a medicine.

The health regulator said smoking is the biggest single cause of avoidable death in England, taking 80,000 people's lives each year.

“While it´s best to quit completely, I realize that not every smoker can and it is much better to get nicotine from safer sources such as nicotine replacement therapy," said Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies. “More and more people are using e-cigarettes, so it´s only right these products are properly regulated to be safe and work effectively.”

Dr. Clare Gerada, Chair of the General Council at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said rates of smoking in the poorest communities remain high. Electronic cigarettes are currently regulated as a consumer product in the UK, with 1.3 million people now using them.

"The RCGP supports MHRA regulation of novel nicotine products such as e-cigarettes as this will ensure that they are of good quality and reliability and are effective in helping smokers who want to use them to cut down and quit," Gerada said.

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced a few weeks ago that she wants to ban electronic cigarettes from public places and their sale to be restricted to over-16 only. The Minister of Social Affairs and Health also said they essentially want to treat e-cigarettes in public places the same way normal cigarettes are treated in France.