There is a liberal argument which goes like this: if people prefer to sell them, people want to purchase them, they can be much less risky than cigarettes and they comply with norms of consumer protection – like being safe, functioning as intended (ie not flawed), and as-described – then why is the medicines regulator concerned, and why is it necessary to set a pub before they may be placed out there? Nicotine is a widely used legal recreational drug that in itself is almost harmless, so why obstruct a much less dangerous method to go with huge regulatory burdens that do not apply to cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are not a medication, and they aren’t used to stop smoking in exactly the same manner as NRT (ie entire withdrawal from nicotine, with NRT supplying subliminal relief from craving). E-cigarettes are accustomed to smoke (‘vape’) in a different way, to get a pleasing nicotine ‘hit’ without many of the severe disadvantages of tobacco smoke, but with a number of the same ritual. The people using them do not define themselves as in therapy, and those selling them do not define themselves as health care providers. The appropriate comparator is a smoke, not NRT smoking cessation products.
Medical experts and campaigners should beware what they wish for. They might wind up piling on prices, conformity burdens and disproportionate restrictions on e-cigarettes that do not apply to cigarettes – killing off the progressive suppliers. They may end up throttling an incredibly important ‘insurgent’ business with all the possibility over time to transform the cigarette market. According to the WHO, one billion deaths are most likely from tobacco in the 21st Century. Public health professionals need to get used to the notion that shifting markets for nicotine to much less dangerous items could dramatically reduce this cost.
Medicines regulation does have a place when restorative claims are made and possibly to support healthcare professionals in recommending novel nicotine products to smokers. The right strategy would be to create medicines management an ‘pick in’ for those sellers who need to generate health claims or who believe the advantages when it comes to consumer confidence, access to medical care markets and confidence for retailers is worth it. On The Other Hand, typical consumer protection laws has all the necessary instruments to make sure e-cigarettes are safe, fit for purpose and asdescribed, without asphyxiating them with red tape.”
I believe we would be hard pressed to discover a more common sense approach to the totality of the problem than this.