E-cigarettes to be classified as 'medicines' in the UK for regulation purposes

By VERONICA LINARES, UPI.com  |  Updated June 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM
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The United Kingdom will classify electronic cigarettes as "medicines" under a new proposal that looks to tighten regulation of nicotine-containing products.

Consequently, manufacturers will have to put the e-cigarettes through new tests before they can sell them as licensed products, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said.

This new label will also mean that licensed e-cigarrettes can be prescribed by doctors as a measure to reduce or quit smoking.

Experts have claimed that the battery powered cigarettes that have the smoker inhale liquid nicotine instead of smoke are considerably healthier than regular cigarettes because they don't contain toxic substances such as tar.

However, many people are concerned about the safety of the product claiming users could not be certain of the purity of the nicotine contained in the cigarettes. In addition, studies have found that the amount of nicotine contained on e-cigarettes varies from batch to batch.

The new regulation measurements would ensure that there is a consistent standard across all the products to be sold over the counter.

"The decision announced today provides a framework that will enable good quality products to be widely available," said the MHRA's group manager of vigilance and risk management of medicines, Jeremy Mean. "It's not about banning products that some people find useful, it's about making sure that smokers have an effective alternative that they can rely on to meet their needs."

Approximately 1.3 million people smoke e-cigarettes in the U.K., according to British news publication The Guardian.

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