The old adage which reads ‘too many chefs spoil the broth’ looks set to be applicable to e liquids now as the MHRA, the EU and even the Mayor of New York are considering laying down plans to put their own mark on the electronic cigarette market.
Recent research funded by the New Zealand government demonstrates that electronic cigarettes are as effective at helping smokers quit their habit as ‘gold standard’ quitting aids. This is without e cigs being regulated as medicinal products or having their marketing powers restricted. Putting aside other issues; e cigs in their relative infancy have already proved their efficacy as smoking cessation tools – surely this is a good thing?
Unfortunately, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have signalled their intention to regulate electronic cigarette as medicinal products which could severely restrict the industry and its growth. Other institutions such as the Government of New York City have mooted plans to restrict marketing and advertising of electronic cigarettes, reducing their exposure significantly.
These measures could serve to undo all of the good work achieved by electronic cigarettes and the people who use them.
The research results released this week suggest that electronic cigarettes in their current form are as effective in helping people quit smoking as nicotine patches.
The National Institute for Health innovation’s Chris Bullen and his colleagues gave e cigarettes to 289 smokers who were attempting to quit and gave 295 smokers nicotine patches. Furthermore, a third group of 73 people were given nicotine-free e cigs. After 6 months, the groups were measured for the percentage of people who had successfully quit.
The group given the standard electronic cigarettes proved to be the most successful when ceasing tobacco use with 7.3% of participants managing to stay away from tobacco. The nicotine patch group had less success with 5.8% successfully quitting. The nicotine-free e cig group had the lowest level of success with only 4% quitting. Whilst nicotine is widely acknowledged to be the most addictive part of electronic cigarettes, the small group of nicotine-free e cig users who quit suggest that some people crave the physical act as much as the nicotine hit.
Bullen remarked on the success of the research: “The quitting rates were about 25 per cent better than patches for the e-cigarettes, but statistically we’re more confident with saying that they were comparable, rather than superior.”
A staggering 88% of the people who were using the electronic cigarettes claimed that they would recommend them to fellow smokers who were attempting to cease tobacco use and 92% of the nicotine-free e cig users agreed. Significantly, only 56% of the patch users would recommend them to other tobacco users, suggesting that the research was far more of a strain on this group that the e cig users.
These results have left Bullen concerned that stricter regulations could have an adverse effect: “Excessive regulation could crush the chance for people to quit.”
Initiatives have been set up by electronic cigarette advocates in an attempt to save the industry from over-regulation. The campaign Save E Cigs are currently working on behalf of the seven million electronic cigarette users within the EU to reduce the impact of proposed regulations.
Such schemes have been backed by industry-leading electronic cigarette companies such as TECC who have set up their own campaign calling upon their customer-base to contact decision-makers and European Parliament members. It is hoped that testimonials and success stories attributed to electronic cigarette devices will help the MHRA and EU reconsider their position to the regulations.
It is clear that the e cig industry will not go down without a fight.