Let’s ensure ads don’t glamourise e-cigs 6

It hasn’t been welcomed by everyone, but the new proposal to regulate e-cigarettes seems about the best available response to a thorny problem.
ASH Scotland therefore joins the majority of the public health community in believing the decision by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to licence e-cigarettes is a sensible and welcome move.

Vapers, as fans of e-cigs are known, will be able to continue their alternative nicotine habit, albeit in a more regulated market.

The MHRA intends to regulate electronic cigarettes as medicines from 2016, but that’s not to say they will disappear off the shelves or require a prescription before a vaper can power up his or her e-cig. They will still be available in shops like their already-regulated cousins such as nicotine gum and patches.

But, with the new regulation, they will be tested and approved for use under the strict rules for medicines. Seems like a good move to us.

Especially as that will also allow the authorities to keep tabs on and limit how electronic cigarettes are being advertised – and whether they are being promoted to children.
Currently, there are glamorous ads for them that hark back to the bad old days of tobacco promotions.

They come in a range of flavours – from roast chicken and even tobacco to vanilla, cherry and bubblegum. That could obviously be an enticement to children.

We want to achieve the right balance between helping smokers move away from tobacco and protecting the next generation from commercial companies seeking a market for addictive products.
But we are seeing a growing trend for tobacco companies buying up e-cig companies and technologies. The tobacco industry has a long record of prioritising increased profits over reduced harm. We’re concerned over their involvement in this field.

Electronic cigarettes should be a lifeline for smokers, not a back door for tobacco companies to target children. Regulation is the right option.

We believe that e-cigarettes and other nicotine replacement products have a role to play in helping smokers and welcome this approach rather than banning them.

Any nicotine-containing device should be taken on its own merits. If it is truly effective in helping smokers, then it should be made available to them.

However, we are concerned at the long lead-in time before implementing regulation for electronic cigarettes.

What will happen over the intervening three years to ensure the quality and consistency of the devices?

And what will happen to tackle the capacity for promotion to children and other new markets, which are already a worry?

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6 comments

  1. So ashscotland dont know that NRT products can be legally bought in supermarkets by 12 year olds? No UK vendors sell to under 18’s but under these new regulations 12 year olds will be able to buy them.

    Protect the children? Really?

  2. “The MHRA intends to regulate electronic cigarettes as medicines from 2016, but that’s not to say they will disappear off the shelves”

    Actually yes, most of them will. Only two devices have any chance of getting a licence before 2016; both are low-end “cigalikes” which have low-capacity batteries, offer no ability to adjust power output to suit personal preferences, and can only use prefilled (and over-priced) cartridges. Most vapers upgrade away from such devices within weeks, because they are truly terrible. However they are all that will be left, because among the effects of MHRA’s proposal will be a complete ban on the bottled e-liquid required to run any of the better devices available. Most vapers, restricted to such poor quality equipment, will simply return to smoking. And yes, it IS poor quality equipment no matter how thoroughly it’s inspected by MHRA. A chocolate teapot made to the highest standards from pharmaceutical grade cocoa is not a high quality item, because the design is fundamentally flawed; it is, and will always be, a chocolate teapot.

    “What will happen over the intervening three years to ensure the quality and consistency of the devices?”

    The same as has been happening since they appeared on the market; users will talk among themselves and apply pressure to vendors to improve the quality of their products. This works. Of course it only works if the market is made up of many small companies, which won’t be the case after 2016…

    “And what will happen to tackle the capacity for promotion to children and other new markets, which are already a worry?”

    It may be a worry, but it’s not a reality. Nobody is marketing e-cigarettes at children. If they are then, as ASH’s own research shows, they’re doing a spectacularly bad job; only 1% of juvenile non-smokers have even tried an e-cigarette, and 0% are currently using them.

    Please stop pretending that this badly thought out proposal is a benefit to vapers that, somehow, we’re all too obtuse to be grateful for. We know a lot more about e-cigarettes than you or MHRA do, and we can assure you it isn’t.

  3. “They come in a range of flavours – from roast chicken and even tobacco to vanilla, cherry and bubblegum. That could obviously be an enticement to children.”
    This think about the children argument is getting old and stale. Where’s your proof?
    I’ve stopped smoking for 3 months thanks to these things. Tasteless Nicolette inhalators and their ilk just didn’t work.
    Surely if adding flavours indices ADULTS to make the change that’s a good thing……No?

  4. “ASH Scotland therefore joins the majority of the public health community in believing the decision by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to licence e-cigarettes is a sensible and welcome move.”

    With respect, I’ve read all the submissions and CHMWG material posted on the MHRA site and am appalled at the lack of evidence behind the position of ‘the majority of the public health community.’ Where ‘evidence’ exists, it is cherry-picked, misleading in conclusion and with some of it reliant upon discredited FDA data. Raise your eyes and look around. There are dozens upon dozens of trials, research papers and learned opinions that run counter to the position of ‘the majority of the public health community.’ Look and thou shalt see.

    “But, with the new regulation, they will be tested and approved for use under the strict rules for medicines. Seems like a good move to us.”

    What’s wrong with current EU/UK laws and regulations? Are you saying they are ineffective? Is the Poisons Act useless? Are CHIP regulations unfit for purpose? Are you suggesting that the only way to manufacture safe nicotine containing products is under regulations for medicine? What about Champix? Cough.

    “Especially as that will also allow the authorities to keep tabs on and limit how electronic cigarettes are being advertised – and whether they are being promoted to children.”

    Alcohol products have their tabs well and truly kept on and cannot be advertised or legally sold to those under 18. Luckily for us, they are all medicines. Oh wait.

    “Currently, there are glamorous ads for them that hark back to the bad old days of tobacco promotions.”

    This is surely a subjective opinion but anyway… Where might these be? Then again… what about the Nicorette campaign material (check youtube for inhalator switch) trying to make the pharmaco product cool, sexy and pub-ready, presented by someone that’s surely not a day over 15 and promoting the range of attractive colours available. Come on. Please.

    “They come in a range of flavours – from roast chicken and even tobacco to vanilla, cherry and bubblegum. That could obviously be an enticement to children.”

    The word ‘obviously’ in this sentence is cringeworthy. Try getting a teen to eat their meat and veg at sunday lunch and see how enticing roast chicken truly is… though coating it with vanilla, cherry and bubblegum is bound to work, right? Besides, these flavourings (and many more besides) have existed for years and are targeted at ADULT HUMANS. They have not been an enticement for children thus far. ASH’s own data supports this. Stop with the ‘for the sake of children’ rhubarb.

    “We want to achieve the right balance between helping smokers move away from tobacco and protecting the next generation from commercial companies seeking a market for addictive products.”

    This is a laudable position, although the only ‘addictive product’ family ASH should truly be concerned with, are smoked tobacco products. Or are you seriously now moving into the arena of alcohol and caffeine?

    “But we are seeing a growing trend for tobacco companies buying up e-cig companies and technologies. The tobacco industry has a long record of prioritising increased profits over reduced harm. We’re concerned over their involvement in this field.”

    And by forcing the exhorbitant costs of licensing, regulation and clinical testing on ALL electronic cigarettes by supporting the MHRA proposal, you are handing the playing field TO the tobacco industry. What did you say about this being a ‘sensible and welcome move?’ You are right to be wary of ‘big tobacco’ moving into the electronic cigarette arena. Did you know BAT were involved in the CMHWG testing phase for the MHRA proposal? Have you thought what might happen should the MHRA proposal become law and the only electronic cigarettes on the market are those made by tobacco and pharmaceutical companies? Wake up. Please.

    “Electronic cigarettes should be a lifeline for smokers, not a back door for tobacco companies to target children. Regulation is the right option.”

    They already ARE a lifeline for smokers without the need to be classed as a medicine. Current UK and EU Laws and Directives already prohibit tobacco companies from targeting children. Based on your 2+2=5 logic, I guess regulation does seem somewhat vanilla-flavoured to you.

    “We believe that e-cigarettes and other nicotine replacement products have a role to play in helping smokers and welcome this approach rather than banning them.”

    NCP NRTs are, sadly, nowhere near as effective as they need to be to combat the harms of tobacco smoking. You, more than anyone, should know this and be truthful about it. Electronic cigarettes should be your ally in the fight against smoking and you should call for them to be tightly regulated under existing laws (to protect safe standards and use/advertising aimed at minors). Banning them? Whoever said anything about banning them? The MHRA themselves are ‘allowing’ e-cigs to be manufactured, sold and used all the way through to 2016 without any interference whatsoever… which just goes to show how dangerous they truly are.

    “Any nicotine-containing device should be taken on its own merits. If it is truly effective in helping smokers, then it should be made available to them.”

    True. And electronic cigarettes already are effective in this way. For a product to be safe does not require regulation as a medicine. For a product to be effective does not require regulation as a medicine. For a product to be beneficial to health does not require regulation as a medicine. If you would like to see electronic cigarettes available through NHS prescription, then by all means suggest a specific regulatory pathway to the MHRA and support any company that wishes to manufacture and license e-cigs for use as a medicine even though that may well be the very tobbaco companies of whose past history, motives and future plans you are so… concerned. Do not support an industry-wide regulatory change. It really is not in your interests, nor the interests of the millions set to suffer or die due to smoking-related illnesses and diseases in the future.

    “However, we are concerned at the long lead-in time before implementing regulation for electronic cigarettes.”

    Yes. The world will end in 2012. Or was that Y2K?

    What will happen over the intervening three years to ensure the quality and consistency of the devices?

    Current UK laws and regulations will happen, that’s what. What is this scaremongering? It does you no credit whatsoever.

    And what will happen to tackle the capacity for promotion to children and other new markets, which are already a worry?

    Oh please. And ditto.

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