There are many ways of doing this, the most popular ones being the straightforward exclusion of the public, the flooding of the process by state-funded pressure groups, the manipulation of responses to avoid the 'wrong' conclusion, or the use of clever wording designed to encourage the respondent not to object.
My! Having just re-read that ... we are East Germany, aren't we?
Anyway, back to the point. Of the methods described above, it is the last which is being employed by public health bodies in an attempt to ban e-cigs despite their carrying no risk whatsoever, as illustrated by this extract from the recent MHRA 'consultation' exercise.
In order to ensure there is no risk to public health from unlicensed products on the market that have not been assessed for safety, quality and efficacy and in the light of the developing extent of their use and familiarity we are consulting to elicit views on whether and how to bring all products containing nicotine into regulation.You see, e-cigs are a great tool for many who wish to quit smoking. It is also unarguable that they are safer than cigarettes so offer harm reduction potential. Unfortunately, though, they are not - tut, tut -manufactured by public health's chums in the pharmaceutical industry, plus e-cig users look like they're smoking. And that is just too offensive a sight for the righteous.
Option 1 – Whether products containing nicotine should be considered by the Agency to be medicinal products by function and, if so, whether all unlicensed NCPs should be removed from the market within 21 days. Currently, MHRA operates a strict practice regarding the period of notice operators are allowed to comply with under the Marketing Authorisation Regulations following the classification of a product as medicinal. Given that these Regulations do not make explicit provisions for a staged withdrawal from the market of an unlicensed medicinal product, immediate cessation of the sale or supply is usually required by the Agency, with written confirmation of the same within 21 days.
Option 2 – Whether products containing nicotine should be considered by the Agency to be medicinal products by function and, if so, whether a notice should be issued to manufacturers that all marketing must cease by a certain date e.g. June 2011. After this date enforcement action would be taken against manufacturers not holding an MA for any such product on the market. This would effectively allow manufacturers a year from the end of public consultation to produce relevant evidence to support an application for an MA, submit it to the MHRA for approval and get the newly licensed products on to the market.
Option 3 – Do nothing and allow these unregulated products containing nicotine that have not been assessed for safety, quality and efficacy to remain on the market.
The MHRA’s preferred option is option 1, which is in line with current practice.
Still, e-cig users continue to fight for their right to 'vape' and, on Wednesday, delivered a hefty petition to Downing Street as a reminder that there are many who are quite happy to risk the non-existent dangers.
I wish them the very best of luck.
It will be interesting, in this new 'enlightened' era of the coalition, to see if the government are serious about personal liberties and decide to kick this ban proposal into the long grass, or whether they will continue with serially-proven public health policy failures like Labour.
Learn more at the UK Vapers Forum.