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E-cigarettes to be regulated

Thursday June 13th, 2013

Electronic cigarettes are to be licensed as medical products, British authorities announced yesterday.

The decision means makers of the products will have to comply with standards set by medical regulators.

The devices could also be restricted if research fails to support their effectiveness.

Regulators yesterday said the e-cigarettes should face the same regulation as other nicotine replacement products.

Manufacturers say they are a safe alternative to cigarettes and official guidance from the UK National Institute of Health and Care Excellence says smokers who want to switch to them should not be discouraged - although they should be warned there is little research.

About a million people in the UK are said to be using them now.

Jeremy Mean, of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said: "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.

"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."

UK chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies added: "Smokers are harmed by the deadly tar and toxins in tobacco smoke, not the nicotine.

"While it's best to quit completely, I realise that not every smoker can and it is much better to get nicotine from safer sources such as nicotine replacement therapy.

"More and more people are using e-cigarettes, so it's only right these products are properly regulated to be safe and work effectively."

The decision was widely welcomed by anti-smoking campaigners yesterday.

Dr Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Marketing of these products must now be closely monitored to ensure non-smokers and children don’t end up using them. We also need more research into the potential health implications of long-term nicotine use."

And Dr Vivienne Nathanson, of the British Medical Association, said: “We can now build on this and press for good research which looks at the efficacy and health implications of e-cigarettes. 

"It’s really important that we find out if the hand to mouth use of e-cigarettes either breaks or reinforces smoking behaviours. We need to know if e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit."

Tags: Cancer | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | Respiratory | UK News

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