Just to recap, there were three options available to those who responded. The first - the nuclear one - would have seen e-cigs banned with immediate effect until they could be assessed as a medicinal device, and one guesses that this would have taken quite some time. It would, to all intents and purposes, have signalled a period of prohibition.
Option 2 was the same as above, but to allow manufacturers a year to comply with new regulations. Option 3 was to do nothing for now.
The results arrived in inboxes last week, and it looks pretty good news for 'vapers'.
[MHRA spokesman Jeremy] Mean explained that the MHRA has decided to adopt option 3, do nothing, with a view to undertaking more research over the next 18 months. He asked for ECITA’s assistance in this regard, and we have pledged our support both to the MHRA and the wider Department of Health in sharing research resources, and more broadly engaging in the process of demonstrating the safety profile of electronic cigarettes, and how they can be used as part of the wider government Tobacco Control programme.The full responses to the consultation showed that the medical establishment all favoured Option 2, while public sector bodies Trading Standards and LACORS opted for an instant ban, so one could kinda chalk this up as a 'win'. Makes a change, eh?
What may have swung it is the vast level of responses from ordinary vapers detailing positive experiences with their devices. Any decision which sought to ban e-cigs would have exhibited high hypocrisy from a government which continually talks of the harm from cigarettes. To ban something which many use as an avenue by which to do exactly what the state is ordering them to do would have been quite laughable. Without supply of ingredients and components to carry on vaping, a lot of people would have naturally returned to tobacco use**.
Of course - as is to be expected of a state so addicted to administrative restriction - despite vast anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that significant numbers have quit smoking thanks to e-cigs, the industry is prohibited from marketing them as such for fear of being hammered by legislation prescribing over-arching medicinal regulation.
As someone who makes regular use of e-cigs - and has commented on them at length - it's a rather pleasing development. However, one assumes that this won't be the end of the matter since the state doesn't feel comfortable with products it can't control. Such a policy endangers salaries, doncha know.
It does, though, give the e-cig industry another 18 months to grow its most potent ally - popularity. Presumably as an offshoot of the bullying over tobacco, e-cig sales are booming, as detailed by Jason Cropper of The Electronic Cigarette Company on BBC Radio Shropshire the other day (5 mins sound file).
As user numbers swell, government's enforcers in Whitehall are going to find it increasingly difficult to cut off vapers from an alternative to tobacco which offers massive harm reduction potential, without showing themselves up as vested interest stooges (if they haven't already, natch).
So for now, it's carry on vaping. Well, until a potential next battle in late 2012, at least.
** A prominent vaper once advised me that a back up policy in the event of repeated atomiser and battery failure (as mechanical components are prone to do) was to keep a packet of fags in a drawer. Should such supplies be rendered unavailable, many vapers would have no other option but to reach for their stash and return to smoking.