Christopher Snowdon protests the recent decision by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to regulate e-cigarettes as medicinal products:
The fledgling e-cigarette industry has no desire to move its tanks onto Big Pharma’s lawn. … If forced down the route of medical trials, a well-funded e-cigarette company could gather the empirical evidence to demonstrate their product’s efficacy as a smoking cessation aid and its relative safety as a consumer product. The question is how long that process would take and whether e-cigarette users would be pushed back on to tobacco in the meantime. As former ASH director Clive Bates has noted, if the regulatory obstacles can be overcome, the likely result will be that prices will rise, innovation will be stifled and the current, diverse crop of e-cigarettes will be replaced by ‘dull but perfectly safe medicalised products that no-one wants to use’. This dismal outcome is arguably the best-case scenario. The prohibitionists who are busy manufacturing myths about children using e-cigarettes as a ‘gateway’ to smoking may yet use medical regulation as a way of forcing a precautionary ban, as has happened in several other countries.