Britain’s Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said Wednesday in a statement, “Electronic cigarettes in the U.K. will be regulated like medicines”.
“The move is being made to make the products safer and more effective in reducing the harms of smoking,” says the MHRA.
“Reducing the harms of smoking to smokers and those around them is a key Government health priority,” Jeremy Mean, the MHRA’s group manager of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines, said in the statement. “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.”
“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,” Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies in the statement. “It’s only right that e-cigarettes are properly regulated to be safe and work effectively.”
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, killing about 80,000 people every year. Once e-cigarettes and other nicotine products are licensed by the U.K. regulator, they will be available for sale as over-the-counter medicines. Britain said it will now push for European law to recognize nicotine products as medicines.
Some manufacturers said they were concerned about the new classification. Damien Scott, commercial manager of e-cigarette maker SKYCIG, said the products are currently self-regulated to ensure they meet consumer standards.
“Medical regulation which could restrict access to these lifestyle products is entirely unjustified,” he said.
Britain has planned to regulate electronic cigarettes as non-prescription medicines from 2016 in an attempt to improve quality. Till then, it will be available across the country.
Countries like Brazil, Norway and Singapore have banned them outright, while others intend to limit e-cigarettes use by bringing in limits on advertising and ban on smoking in public places.