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British American Tobacco behind U.K.’s first licensed electronic cigarette
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Mark Benson Offline
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British American Tobacco behind U.K.’s first licensed electronic cigarette
For some time now the authorities have been campaigning against electronic cigarettes amid wild claims designed to stunt growth in industry sales. However, only a few weeks ago the cracks started to emerge when Public Health England softened its stance on electronic cigarettes in a surprise announcement. Highlighting a report which suggested that electronic cigarettes were 95% less harmful than their tobacco counterparts many were expecting a major change in policy.

Those expecting major changes were correct with news this week that British American Tobacco has secured the U.K.’s first licensed electronic cigarette. The product is licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and is the first of its kind in the UK. So, where does this leave the NHS in relation to electronic cigarettes going forward?

Availability in the New Year

Concerns and criticism about the close relationship which tobacco companies/pharmaceutical groups have with governments around the world have not been alleviated with news of this imminent move. How is it that the authorities can move from a position of criticising the electronic cigarette industry to one of embracing it in just a few weeks?

If you believe the political leaks the availability of licensed electronic cigarettes on the NHS will start in the new year. At a time when smoking aids, such as patches, etc have been falling in volume across the NHS quit smoking service, what better time to introduce electronic cigarettes?

Stunting competition?

On the surface it looks as though the authorities are favouring one particular electronic cigarette company above all others. The fact is not all of those people looking to quit smoking will be eligible for NHS prescriptions and therefore this may not be as anti-competitive as it may look at first glance. In some ways it could actually promote the use of electronic cigarettes going forward by effectively giving an NHS seal of approval. Is this what the authorities wanted?

When you bear in mind the number of regulations being muted to control the electronic cigarette industry it is difficult to know what the authorities are aiming for. Are they aiming to bring all electronic cigarette products under the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency? Are they looking to promote the use of electronic cigarettes right across the board? Are they readying the sector for a move towards additional taxation?

Looking forward

It is difficult to say with great confidence what long-term policies governments around the world have planned for the electronic cigarette industry. On one hand we see the regulatory burden increasing, more critical headlines across the mass media while on the other hand we are rumoured to be only weeks away from electronic cigarettes on prescription in the UK. Who would have thought this a few weeks ago never mind a few years ago?

There will be concerns regarding the authorities very close relationship with British American Tobacco, and other tobacco companies, and whether this could be to the detriment of leading electronic cigarette companies. Is this the next stage in a takeover of the industry by the tobacco giants?

For more information on OK Electronic Cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website.
10-12-2015 12:11 PM
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