helenic: (CCTV - big government)
[personal profile] helenic

Many of my friends have had good things to say about the new electric cigarette things, smokers and non-smokers alike. I'm not a smoker (well, not of cigarettes) but I'm a fan: they're shiny, they light up blue when you draw on them, and they don't contain tobacco, which means no nasty-smelling smoke, no tar, no carcinogens. In case anyone's not heard of them, they're dinky cigarette-shaped nicotine vaporisers, and I've seen them come in amazingly cute little shiny metal packs where the "cigarette pack" is the charger. As far as I'm concerned it's an example of How Tech Should Be Used.

The Government is apparently less convinced. They have just released a public consultation to determine whether to bring all nicotine containing products – with the exception of tobacco and tobacco products - within the medicines licensing regime. This would require all currently unlicensed nicotine containing products on the market, such as electronic cigarettes, to apply to the MHRA for a medicines Marketing Authorisation.

In case it's not clear why this would be stupid, it would clamp down on electric cigarettes and nicotine patches/gels - the sociable, healthy ways to feed your nicotine addiction - without the restriction applying to tobacco products, being the antisocial, unhealthy ways. It's not clear what the consequences of the medicine license would be - perhaps they'd be prescription only, they'd probably be more expensive - but it would almost certainly discourage their use. The hypocrisy involved in putting these constraints on non-tobacco products and not on tobacco products is really quite astounding. The cynical might suggest that although electric cigarettes are more healthy, the fact that the generate less revenue for the Treasury in the form of tobacco tax might be a reason for the Government to want to place stricter controls on them (i.e. licensing fees).

It's a public consultation, which means they're seeking responses. My understanding is that the Government usually gets far fewer responses to these things than one might expect, meaning that anyone who bothers to respond is likely to have their response at least read (although of course that's no guarantee it'll be taken into account). The consultations are downloadable here, and the response form is here. If you're a user or supporter of electric cigarettes, I'd encourage you to respond.

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