Last month’s decision by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (MHRA) to introduce licensing regulations to all nicotine-containing products with effect from 2016 has dismayed the local e-cigarette producers. E-cigarettes have been constantly gaining in popularity in the UK, making Wigan what is being called a ‘central hub’ for e-cigarettes. Once the new regulations come into force, the smoking alternative will be permitted to be sold only with a license. The new regulations could see local businesses lose their right to deal in e-cigarettes, which would be classified as medicines.
E-cigarettes have found widespread acceptance and have generated substantial revenues for shops stocking the product. E-cigarettes are devices which convert a nicotine-containing liquid into a vapour, which the user can inhale. To a great extent it simulates the motions of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.
The product would be permitted to be sold only for medicinal purposes or over the counter and users in UK, presently numbering around three million, would find it more difficult to access the product.
Darren Sharples, Co-Director of Cloudstix finds the attempt to classify e-cigarettes as medicines absolutely ridiculous. He points out that while people use them as aids to stop smoking, they are not being promoted as such aids.
E-cigarettes provide a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes by avoiding the health hazards associated with smoking tobacco. It has the potential to save lives of millions of smokers, avoiding diseases directly attributable to tobacco smoke.
MHRA Group Manager, Jeremy Mean states that they are not able to recommend the product due to safety and quality concerns and that is the reason for their recommendation against the use of the device.
Shops selling e-cigarettes can continue to do so provided they comply with the safety standards required for obtaining a license to deal in medicines.
Even in the absence of any laws to prevent the sale of the product to minors, Cloudstix has implemented its own policy of refusing to sell the product to persons below the age of 18. The company agrees that sale to minors should be made illegal.
They point out that regulations which classify e-cigarettes as medicines will be counter-productive driving people back to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Darren states that any move to consider e-cigarettes as medicines will push up the price and make them as expensive as or even more expensive than regular cigarettes, taking away that advantage of e-cigarettes. Removing flavours while leaving only tobacco and menthol will only encourage people to switch back to tobacco cigarettes. Darren also states that Wigan is well and truly the central hub for e-cigarettes. It has been increasing in popularity with people from different parts of the country placing orders for e-cigarettes with his company, as this product is not easily available in their local areas.