Thursday, June 20, 2013

Is distrusting the MHRA's regulation of e-cigarettes "conspiracy theories?"

Recently on a forum for e-cigarette enthusiasts, a commenter said he "saw no harm" in the move to regulate electronic cigarettes as medicine in the U.K., if what the MHRA was saying about just wanting to have e-cigarette companies "apply for licensing and to make sure the nic juices deliver consistent amounts of nicotine as advertised" was true. Apparently expecting doubt from other commenters that the MHRA was being forthright, the commenter said, "Conspiracy theorists have at it."

How is it a conspiracy theory, I asked? These people have 30 years of lying to the public about tobacco, nicotine and low risk alternatives as evidence they have no interest in telling the truth.

Back in the late 70's, anti-smokers were pushing for separate smoking sections in restaurants. They claimed that is all they wanted and there was no "slippery slope." People who claimed that it would open the door to draconian measures down the road were called "conspiracy theorists," too. Thirty years later, there are bans on smoking even OUTSIDE. It's bad enough that there is plenty of evidence second-hand smoke poses NO danger to anyone outside, but they have still managed to ban even vaping (and smokeless tobacco use) outdoors without ANY evidence at all.

The "conspiracy theorists" were right all along.

And in the UK:
“No one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants,” said the director of ASH (UK) in 1998, adding that the suggestion was a “scaremongering story by a tobacco front group.” In June 2005 Britain's public-health minister described talk of such a ban as “false speculation”. Parliament voted it into law just eight months later.

The MHRA isn't regulating to help vapers get "better products." It's doing this to open the door to applying whatever regulations they deem fit once the products are "medicines." What people are failing to ask is, where are the complaints? Has the MHRA been deluged with complaints that people's e-cigarettes are failing to work? The MHRA is "fixing" a problem that barely exists...for people who haven't asked for a fix. It is a problem that the market is handling just fine, thank you. If an e-cigarette/liquid sucks, word gets out or they try it and don't buy it again. And what does a license accomplish other than revenue for the government? Do people really think they will be going store to store, site to site to guarantee that the liquid is "good?" How much will non-smokers' taxes be raised to cover all of these "inspections" and reviews of e-liquid? Another question: if most of the products "currently out there [are] of poor quality," as the MHRA claims, then why are there 1.3 million perfectly happy vapers in the UK? (That's 13% of the smokers in the UK who have quit or significantly reduced smoking, by the way.)

The MHRA says it wants e-cigarettes to be as effective and high quality as other nicotine medicines. Do they mean the ones that succeed only 6.5% of the time to help smokers quit? Because, if that is their idea of "effective," the e-cig industry (and vapers) in the UK are screwed. Remember that just a few months ago the goal was to limit the nicotine strengths to 4 mg - the same as medical NRT. Do people really believe that idea is off the table?

How will the MHRA "make sure the nic juices deliver consistent amounts of nicotine as advertised?" (And do they assure the same thing for cigarette smokers?) Does that mean the devices must be proven to deliver "consistent amounts?" Or do they just mean that the liquid actually contains what the bottle/cartridge states? Does anyone know a company that charges more for 24 mg than for 18 mg? If a customer doesn't get exactly the level ordered, are they out any money? If a customer orders 6 mg but NEEDS 24 mg to be effective, will that be the fault of the company for selling an "ineffective" product? Who gets to pick what is "effective?" I use a 6 mg liquid on an eGo VV with a drip tip. That is effective for me. Everyone good with that for themselves?

Most importantly, the reasons they give for wanting medical regulation are illogical. Do e-cigarettes really need to be licensed and regulated as medicines to ensure truthful labeling (which is what it really comes down to?) If an energy drink says it contains 20 mg of caffeine, but really only contains 18 mg, do energy drinks need to be regulated as medicines then? Or are there already truth in advertising laws already in place to handle this issue? Do energy drinks have to prove that they are "effective" for caffeine delivery and energy creation? Or do people try them and decide for themselves whether or not the drink does for them what they expect? How are e-cigarettes any different?

This ruling is not as black and white as some may think. And every time the ANTZ claim they are doing something to help smokers, it seems they just get screwed over instead. Smoking bans, high taxes, NRT, Chantix - all claimed to be to help people quit yet did absolutely nothing but victimize smokers even more.

Conspiracy theory? Just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they aren't out to get you!


  1. Nice post, Kristin. Maybe a typo at, "Do they mean the ones that fail 6.5% of the time to help smokers quit?". I think this is probably 96.5%?

  2. Nice post - but did you note that the spokes'person' for the MHRA also commented that

    "Nothing currently on the market would get a medical authorisation!" (not sure how accurate that quote is - but you get the gist of it!)

    That is the real killer for e-cigs.

    1. That's right, Miles, I do remember seeing that quote. I did mention something to that effect during my discussion with the commenter on the e-cigarette forum. We can only hope (and work toward) that in the years before this regulation actually kicks in, there will be millions more e-cigarette users and a lot more research to counter this ruling!

  3. One suspects the answers as to why MHRA are so keen on this are rather more simple than even a health nag.

    Imagine how many MHRA inspectors will be required. We'll have a whole "e-cigarette enforcement division", with a Director of E-Cigarettes, Government funding...


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