In March this year the UK's Medicines and Health products Regulation Authority (MHRA) launched a consultation on the regulation of non tobacco administrative products. To date there have been 1217 responses from public, commercial and voluntary sector organisation such as the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and British American Tobacco's new venture Nicoventures. This has been launched in response to the availability of a new form of nicotine administration called 'e-cigarettes'.
E cigarettes are a method of giving a dose of nicotine to the smoker in a similar way to a cigarette. They give the same sensation to the cigarette, and give a similar hit. They do not involve burning tobacco, and thus apparently do not have the same ill effects of smoking such as second hand smoke. The basic idea for the smoker is you are inhaling 1-2 poisons instead of the 1000 odd from tobacco. They are odourless so as stand are accepted as legal for the smoker in the pub. This is one of the reasons they took off in the US - in response to the New York City indoor public places smoking ban.
MHRA Regulation Consultation
NRT cannot replicate smoking effectively. In the MHRA consultation the Royal College of Physicians states 'As any smoker will attest, currently available Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products are no substitute for a cigarette, and if we are to make progress to encourage more smokers to use medicinal nicotine as a substitute and / or cessation aid, we need products that mimic more closely the dose and rate of nicotine delivery'. They advocate regulation but retention of the products on the market - so those already using can continue to do so while their product of choice is applying for licensing.
From personal experience of NRT you are permanently dosed up on nicotine, and in my case I am 'wired' all the time. Smoking cigarettes has peaks and troughs - you get a hit and it sloughs off before you fix again. I have started smoking e cigarettes and have cut down my smoking significantly.
Unregulated, the prices are low and the consumer cannot be sure of the contents of the product. Few studies have been carried out as to the health effects / risks of these products. Sloppy dosage of the vials could result in an overdose of nicotine, with cardiac arrest as a distinct possibility. Though regulated, the price point would rise, the trade off is safety and consistency of the product.
Personal recommendation of e-cigs
I am a recent convert to these. No one has been documented as keeling over from OD (otherwise there would have been knee jerk global regulation) and it is comforting to know I can enjoy my filthy habit without poisoning myself too much, or those indoors / down wind of me.
My wife is a singer and can't tolerate second hand smoke. Using this, I can enjoy a cigarette indoors without having to go through the rainy night into the shed for a fag. I still have three cigarettes a day - 1/7th my old intake - because I enjoy nothing more than a smoke with my coffee in the garden in the morning. I don't drink alcohol so the odd guilty pleasure is acceptable in my opinion!
From personal experience though you should really try buying the cheapest version of your e cigarette first. I have found good and bad, without blowing a great deal of money before making my final choice. In my case I have sided with one called Halo, available from the Welsh company e-cigarette direct. This is a simpler system than most - 2 parts not three - and provides the hit you need and a palatable taste. Unlike some brands I have bought, you rarely get a duff packet.
Using a different brand from another supplier I found myself with a mouthful of nicotine laced glycerol when I took a drag driving my car on the motorway with my kid in the back. Killing myself with a nicotine OD on the motorway is one thing - killing my son?!
Let's look at the cost. I smoke 21 cigarettes a week now at £4 a packet of rolling tobacco. I spend £10 a week on cartridges for my e-cigarettes. I used to spend £40 on rolling tobacco - a saving of £26 a week. £26 times 52 = £1352 a year saving. You get a fatter wallet and more air in your lungs - almost crazy not to switch!
Regulation will get the bad ones off the market. The risks will be reduced. To me, the answer is to definitely regulate, but I also agree with the RCP that these should not be taken off the market while the regulation system is being drawn up.
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