E-cigarettes are to be licensed as a medicine by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency from 2016, along with all products containing nicotine.
This means when you buy e-cigarettes you can be confident they will be safe to use. At the moment there is no guarantee of quality – what is stated on the label may not be what is inside the e-cigarette.
This decision will put an end to the dodgy pop-up shops selling e-cigarettes made who knows where to unknown standards which could risk your health.
It will also help stamp out the iffy advertising that’s grown up around e-cigarettes which sometimes mimics the bad old days of making smoking look glamorous.
Once licensed, e-cigarettes will only be advertised for cutting down or quitting smoking. Advertisers will not be able to encourage non-smokers to take them up as a ‘lifestyle choice’.
There are an estimated 700,000 users of e-cigarettes in the UK, so this decision will affect a lot of people. Because they will be licensed as a medicine, it means that health professionals will be able to provide them as an aid to stopping smoking.
Much of the harm caused by cigarettes is in the tobacco they contain and the smoke you inhale when it burns. Products such as patches, gum, mouth sprays, and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, not tobacco, and provide a way for you to reduce the harm caused by real cigarettes as well as a way of helping you to cut down or quit smoking altogether.
Half of all people who smoke cigarettes will die of a smoking-related disease. Smoking is the single biggest cause of avoidable death and kills 80,000 people in England alone every year. I’m really pleased that high quality e-cigarettes will be available to help reduce the terrible toll smoking takes on individuals and their families.
Your high-street pharmacist can help you stop smoking – they’ve helped tens of thousands of people already and can help you too.
If you want to stop smoking, products such as patches and gum are often available free on the NHS through your local pharmacy, so why not pop in next time you’re passing and ask for some advice? You’ll be giving your health a head-start the second you stop.