Electronic cigarettes will be classed as a medicine and regulated as a smoking aid in the UK by 2016, following a decision by The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Cigarettes are responsible for 100,000 deaths a year
Until recently, the UK has taken a more relaxed stand on the use of e-cigarettes, colloquially known as ‘vaping’, despite some countries banning them.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices designed to be a direct replacement for real cigarettes. The term ‘vaping’ refers to the process of nicotine being evaporated by the e-cigarette to be inhaled by the user.
Figures suggest almost 1.3 million smokers and ex-smokers use e-cigarettes in the UK.
Jeremy Mean from MHRA said the government had decided that e-cigarettes currently being sold do not meet the appropriate standards of safety or quality.
Mean told a news conference: “We can't recommend these products because their safety and quality is not assured, and so we will recommend that people don't use them.
“Smoking is the riskiest thing you can do - we want to enable people to cut down and quit - we don't think a ban is a proportionate action.”
Since tobacco-smoking was banned in public places, sales of tobacco-free cigarettes have soared despite very little being known about their long term effects.
Health experts have welcomed the decision and believe more research on the product needs to done to assess the effects of e-cigarettes. Anti-smoking campaigners also believe the regulation will prevent companies from marketing their product to children and non-smokers.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "MHRA regulation can ensure that adult smokers can continue to be able to buy e-cigarettes as easily as tobacco, but promotion to children or non-smokers will be prohibited."
Brazil, Singapore and Norway have all banned e-cigarettes and some countries will only sell them through pharmacies.
Pru Health insurers will offer a cash back incentive on your health insurance policy if you stop smoking during your policy.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013