Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association

Tel : 01639 710 558

Email : support@ecita.org.uk

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Are electronic cigarettes unregulated?

No. There are over 21 European and UK directives and regulations currently relating to Electronic Cigarette products. Sadly, due to what appears to be a sustained campaign of misinformation it is widely believed that they are not regulated at all. ECITA believes that only a few product-specific regulatory changes would be necessary, in addition to the current regulations, to ensure continued consumer safety as well as to improve product standards.

The Tobacco Products Directive - will be brought into force in May 2016. This is an unfortunate piece of legislation that was created on very little scientific evidence, and with no consideration of the considerable negative unintended consequences - particularly in terms of public health. The evidence that was available at the time showed that electronic cigarettes are many times safer in terms of harm than smoked tobacco. All the robust scientific evidence available today continues to demonstrate this, and shows that other concerns, such as ‘gateway into smoking’, ‘harm to bystanders’ and ‘undermining tobacco control measures’ are simply not borne out by the evidence collated thus far.

Aren't electronic cigarettes just another Tobacco Industry trick to recruit new smokers?

No. It is certainly true that the Tobacco Industry's response to its 'Kodak moment' has been to buy up some electronic cigarette companies. However, in the UK, there are five electronic cigarette brands which are owned by the Tobacco Industry, while there are nearly 500 independent brands operating to provide innovative new products, tailor-made to fit the unique smoker's requirements. If the aim of Tobacco Control is the destruction of the Tobacco Industry in its entirety, then this is likely to be a pipe dream (pun intended!). In reality, the Tobacco Industry will need a viable alternative if it is to remain in business as combustible tobacco products lose more and more market share. This is desirable from a public health perspective, because it is undeniably healthier not to smoke. It is our sincere hope that the Tobacco Industry will fully engage with this sector, and stop restricting itself to inefficient first generation products, so that they can produce excellent vaping solutions for smokers, and eventually, abandon the production and sale of combustible products altogether. Indeed, there needs to be healthy competition from independent electronic cigarette companies that do not have a stake in tobacco sales to ensure that the market continues to attract smokers away from combustible tobacco products to a safer alternative. If the aim is really the improvement of public health, then policy-makers and regulators ought to want this, too.

Isn't vaping just swapping one addiction for another?

No, and it's really important to recognise the complexities of why not. If we accept the premise that smoking is a bad idea because half of those who smoke will die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking, and most would accept this as true, then the urge to continue to smoke in spite of this knowledge, and despite all the more immediate disadvantages of smoking (the smell, the cough, etc) may properly be described as 'addiction'.

If we accept another premise: that there are many people all over the world who find it difficult to start their working day without a cup of coffee; who will have further cups of coffee at breaks throughout the day, or at their desks while working; and who may sometimes be heard describing their trip to the coffee machine in terms of 'needing to get a fix', then is it appropriate to describe the urge to continue to drink coffee regularly as 'addiction'? Even in the absence of harm to the coffee drinker, or those around them?

As Professor Karl Fagerström put it:

"Drug dependence means that a person needs a drug to function normally. Abruptly stopping the drug leads to withdrawal symptoms (craving included).

Drug addiction is the compulsive use of a substance, despite its negative or dangerous effects."

Vaping is a great alternative to smoking for those who rely on nicotine to "function normally", just as those who need that first coffee to kick start their day rely on caffeine to "function normally". In the absence of negative or dangerous effects felt by the user or those around them from vaping and/or drinking coffee, why would anyone seek to classify either as 'addiction'; they are more accurately described as 'dependence'.

What is industry doing to address issues and concerns?

ECITA introduced the Industry Standard of Excellence in 2010. The ISE codifies all the existing legislation and regulations for the sector, and our members are audited to this standard. We have also seen many of these improvements in compliance and standards go much wider than just our membership. Now, ECITA is working on producing a PAS with the British Standards Institute, due to be published in March 2015. This will provide recommendations on improving manufacturing standards, and introduces more robust testing procedures. There are also moves to produce a CEN standard for electronic cigarettes. Production standards have been raised substantially over the last couple of years; this builds on our early efforts and is now largely driven by better-informed consumers demanding better products.

Will the use of electronic cigarettes renormalise smoking behaviour and provide a gateway into smoking?

No, and no. The use of electronic cigarettes normalises the use of electronic cigarettes, and may help other smokers find an escape route from smoking, too. The 'gateway' demonstrably goes the other way: it is a gateway out of smoking.  Current research data show that there is no cause for alarm: survey data from ASH UK and ASH Wales show that less than 1% of children and non-smokers have tried electronic cigarettes and even less went on to be regular users. ASH Scotland found that it was less than 2%. Professor Robert West’s longitudinal study into smoking behaviours (Smoking Toolkit Study) again shows an increase in tobacco quit attempts and a significant decrease in overall smoking prevalence, suggesting that ecigs are not disrupting Tobacco Control efforts. On the contrary, smoking prevalence has fallen dramatically in the UK, with a concomitant increase in successful quit attempts. This success is also found in other countries, such as the United States, which saw a 19% fall in its teenage smoking prevalence over the past three years (the period during which electronic cigarette use increased dramatically), and France, which saw teenage smoking prevalence fall by 45% over the past four years. As experts at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and the Royal College of Physicians explain:

"Much concern has been expressed that use of e-cigarettes in public, especially in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited, undermines the denormalisation of smoking achieved in recent years and hence promotes smoking. Concerns about renormalisation through use in places where smoking is prohibited assume that e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes look so similar that non-smokers, and particularly children, cannot tell the difference, which is unlikely. E-cigarettes – especially later generation products – clearly look different, and the odourless vapour that they produce is quite different from tobacco smoke."

Should electronic cigarettes advertising be permitted?

The Committees of Advertising Practice published new rules on the advertising of electronic cigarettes in October 2014. These are enforced by the Advertising Standards Agency and are expected to be reviewed after 12 months. It is vitally important, from a public health perspective, that smokers are allowed to receive information about the alternatives available to them, and responsible advertising is an essential component of this. The TPD would ban all advertising, but by doing so, it would restrict smokers' access to information which could lead to their making the switch to vaping and removing the vast majority of the harms caused by their smoking. It is very difficult to see how this could benefit individual smokers, their families and friends, and the population.

Should we be engaging with both consumers and industry when discussing these products?

Yes, in the case of these new products, it would be prudent to include the consumers, industry, as well scientific evidence in any information sharing and regulatory discussions. The benefits of doing so, is a good informed idea of what is happening. This debate should not be shadowed by fears and ideologies, but a clear an open discussion about the benefits and potential pit falls as it stands today, not from what may or may not happen in 20 years, where the evidence does not show any significant risks to population health.