There are a few fundamental reasons why e-cigs are not and should not be classed as a medicine.
The first reason is the way they work, not as in the nuts and bolts of how they are put together; i.e. the battery or atomizer function, but the way we vapers use them – their functionality.
We use them so we can have nicotine when we crave it, each and every time we crave it. For some that’s a few times every hour, for others it can be every few minutes. We use them in this respect pretty much the same way as we would use a cigarette.
Now compare this to the way Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works – which is classed as a medicine.
NRT is there, as Clive Bates, former head of ASH describes as ‘background noise’. NRT is with you all the time, giving you a low dose of nicotine in a pretty much constant stream. Think of NRT patches and even the chewing gum, they release a constant, steady, slow dose of nicotine. The aim there is to eradicate cravings altogether.
Now let’s look at habits.
NRT is designed to change your habits. The ‘low level’ noise is there so that you don’t have a cigarette with a cup of coffee, or after your meal, nothing to have in your hand, nothing to have in your mouth – (unless you use the chewing gum), but it works along the principle that if you eradicate the cravings and change the habits, then you can quit smoking.
E cigs don’t alter your habits – you have the same hand to mouth action as smoking, the same inhale/exhale, the same fiddling with something in your hand, the same throat hit, you exhale vapour, you may possibly even create more habits – like the way you refill, how you mix your e-liquid etc.
Agreed, both E-cigarettes and NRT contain nitrosamines and residual contaminants, but at safe, very low levels. This shows that e-cigs are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but I don’t believe this is enough to make them into a medicine.
As you can see so far, with vaping/ electronic cigarettes you are simply replacing one harmful habit, for one that is less harmful.
Clive Bates argues that should the EU Commission class e-cigarettes as medicines, they will in fact be supporting the tobacco industry, the very industry they hold responsible for 700,000 deaths a year in Europe alone, as many vapers will simply switch back to tobacco cigarettes.
Professor Etter, form the University of Geneva has said, “ In the European Union, a proposal to change the Directive regulating tobacco product was announced in December 2012. In this proposal, cartridges that contain more than 2 mg nicotine, e-liquids that contain more than 4 mg nicotine per ml, or e-cigarettes that result in blood nicotine concentrations of more than 4 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter, a very low level, similar to level observed in non-smokers exposed to light levels of passive smoking) will need to be approved as medicinal products. If implemented in this form, this directive would essentially kill the e-cigarette market, and therefore have seriously adverse effects on public health.
The question remains why do they want to do this?
Electronic cigarettes are a viable alternative to smoking; they are not a medicine and should not be classed as such.