The Royal Society gives off an opulent vibe. The walls are decked with images of scientists such as Isaac Newton, golden-framed and hanging ominously overhead. Today the Royal Society became the site of the E-Cigarette Summit, a day dedicated to debating the safety, efficacy and regulation of e-cigarettes. The day was split into three sessions, firstly looking at the safety and efficacy through talks with scientists and researchers such as Dr. Lynne Dawkins and Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, then moving on to regulation with talks from public health professors like Prof. Jean Francois Etter and important figures such as Jeremy Mean from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority – effectively the UK’s FDA) and finally looking at the controversies surrounding the technology with a talk from Professor of Public Health Antoine Flahault and one from Deborah Arnott of ASH UK.
With an impressively positive morning with the researchers and scientists, it was time to consider the dark cloud of regulation currently looming over the future of e-cigarettes.
•UK healthcare excellence organization cannot recommend an unlicensed product.
•Misinformation may play a role in discussions – research shows almost half of people in both the US and UK believe that nicotine causes most cancer.
•Clive Bates equation for harm reduction: harm reduction = reduced risk × number who switch. The reduced risk is without question with or without regulation and medicines regulation will only reduce the appeal of e-cigs.
•Many believe the black market would thrive in the presence of harsh regulation.
•MHRA argues that the “spectrum” of medicines regulation would allow e-cigs to continue to thrive. •MHRA believe e-cigs don’t meet safety standards, and have received 12 reports about e-cigs to date (out of 1.3 million UK users), including one of lipoid pneumonia (which is impossible without oils in e-liquid).
•When questioned about the cost of medical regulation to small businesses, Jeremy Mean did not provide a sufficiently detailed answer.
•When questioned about virtually anything else, Jeremy Mean did not provide a sufficiently detailed answer.
•Prof. Jean Francois Etter believes “light touch” regulation does not exist, and argues that neither medicines nor tobacco regulations are appropriate for e-cigs. Says regulators should make room for “recreational nicotine products.”
•Liberal Democrat MEP comments to Prof. Etter that they had to think practically about what would be accepted in EU.