All nicotine-containing products (NCPs), such as electronic cigarettes, are to be regulated as medicines in a move to make these products safer and more effective to reduce the harms of smoking.
The UK Government has decided that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will regulate all NCPs as medicines so that people using these products have the confidence that they are safe, are of the right quality and work.
Smoking is the biggest single cause of avoidable death - killing 80,000 people in England each year. Making safe and effective products available for people who smoke can help them cut down or quit.This is wordplay and sophistry of world class proportion.
The Guardian report that there are now around 1.3 million e-cig users in the UK, which makes it quite clear that e-cigs are an incredibly successful tool to "reduce the harms of smoking"; that 1.3 million people find that they "work" and "can help them cut down or quit".
The MHRA should know this from their own public consultation back in 2011 during which they received 1,217 responses from the general public. An overwhelming majority of these - if not all of them - were from satisfied e-cig users pleading for the MHRA to leave the devices alone and allow vapers to, indeed, "cut down or quit". On the other hand, they received just 9 responses from the usual bansturbatory elite demanding medicinal licensing.
In the face of such a landslide - and identical to the process employed for the EU's consultation on snus - the MHRA chose to side with the 9 and toss out the views of 1,217 members of the public. Because, you see, the term 'public consultation' is a bit of a misnomer; the description they are seeking is more like 'organised fraud with a pretence of involving taxpayers and electors'.
The MHRA know very well that their proposals will do the exact opposite of helping smokers to "cut down or quit". They also know that medicinal regulation will make e-cigs considerably less "effective" by stifling innovation, raising prices and obliterating choice, thereby vandalising the very incentives for a product which has huge market support - and which has cost the taxpayer nothing. In short, they won't "work" any more.
Instead, what we are now promised is - be in no doubt about this - an effective ban on e-cigs in the UK, as explained by E-cig Politics.
I refer to pharmaceutical licensing as a ban, because it is. There are at least 5,000 products on the market now, the majority being refill variants. All will need to be removed from the market immediately licensing comes into force (within 21 days is the usual requirement). A license can only be applied to one product or product combination: a single hardware model, or a single liquid type/flavour, or a single device plus one liquid type. There is no possibility of a single license for several products. Each single product takes at least 3 years and at least £2m to achieve a license for (as that is what it has cost Intellicig in time and money to get their license so far, with no result as yet). Intellicig famously underestimated the cost and timescale, and have had to modify their time plan by a factor of 2 (initial estimate was 2 years), and their cost estimates by a factor of 20 (initial budget was £95,000). And it's not over yet.
If either the EU or the MHRA achieve a ban via the pharmaceutical licensing or tobacco product classification routes, legal e-cigarette sales are finished in the UK, and a huge black market will ensue.Quite.
But then it has all been so predictable, hasn't it? Once the revolution of e-cigs took hold, those who claim to be interested in health have clutched at multiple straws to deride, demonise, smear and undermine them.
We've seen attempts to invent passive and thirdhand vaping as a concept; heroic conspiracy theories claiming that millions of successful quitters are just an illusion; attempts to rig legislation at EU level; and junk science promoted as fact.
In the end, the pharma enthralled tobacco control industry have fallen back on justification so weak as to be laughable. That they vary in quality and that kids might use them.
ASH welcome regulation to stop kids using e-cigs despite their own study finding 0% of kids using them; the BBC seeks out a head teacher who banned e-cigs in their usual agitprop coverage, despite no student ever having been seen using one; and everyone else cites obscure and unrepresentative negative studies while ignoring the overwhelming benefits to health of over a million people cutting down on tobacco consumption.
It was all telegraphed beforehand too. With the MHRA abomination looming, state bodies redoubled their denialist efforts. The NHS Choices site - purporting to be a neutral fact-checker - displayed the underlying agenda perfectly by publishing this article yesterday.
Carefully cherry-picked junk science - and even this absurd Guardian article - were presented as proof that pharma produced NRT was absolutely brilliant, while e-cigs were dangerous and useless.
Written by someone who doesn't have much understanding of the devices (e.g. they all look like cigarettes; are triggered by air flow; batteries only last 2 to 5 hours), it contained 'neutral' info which clearly showed which side of the fence they were coming down on.
It’s not certain whether e-cigarettes deliver as much nicotine as forms of nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, so they may not be as effective at curbing nicotine cravings.Hence why 1.3 million smokers have shunned e-cigs in favour of NRT with its 98.4% failure rate ... oh, hold on.
If you want to try a safer alternative to cigarettes but are concerned about the uncertainties surrounding e-cigarettes, you may wish to consider a nicotine inhalator.A product which has been so successful that it hasn't attracted millions worldwide like, err, e-cigs despite being free and backed by saturation TV advertising.
Because e-cigarettes can be smoked in public places such as bars, restaurants and public transport, some people feel they may be normalising what has come to be seen as an unacceptable activity.For 'some people', read 'a tiny minority of state-funded lobbyists and fake charities'.
And just in case you didn't get the message, they produce a neat infographic to make sure you make the, ahem, correct choice.
Today is the apex of tobacco control industry stupidity. Ultimate and resounding proof of what I have been saying for years. It has never, ever, been about health. And now they have illustrated it beyond reasonable doubt.
Anything that has gone before can now be disregarded, they have negligently provided all the evidence needed.
So they installed a smoking ban, so what? They have produced rules which could force 1.3 million vapers back to smoking. They banned vending machines. So what? They are effectively banning a revolutionary product which was reducing tobacco harm worldwide. They banned tobacco displays. So what? Their lapdog big pharma loyalty is the best thing tobacco manufacturers have heard for a long time. They intend to bring in evidence-free plain packaging. So what? They are also intending to obliterate a smoking alternative which carries global, real life evidence of overwhelming success.
It can never again be claimed that these people have any care for health. Ever. Just as we can now conclude with 100% confidence that public consultations are nothing but an elaborate and costly sham.
As one tobacco industry observer put it today, they have "killed the golden goose" before it's had a chance to lay many more priceless public health golden eggs. It was, as ex-Director of ASH Clive Bates dolorously described, "a good day for the cigarette makers".
But what does the tobacco control industry care? It was never about health anyway.