E-Cigarettes have been around for a while with over 2 million people in the UK said to be vaping. Although experts have always believed that e-cigs are far much safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes, it wasn’t until towards the closing of 2015 when the Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) decided to approve one of these devices. e-Voke is the electronic cigarette brand from the British American Tobacco (BAT) which got the MHRA approval for clinical use.
What this means is that the NHS can now prescribe e-Voke to help smokers quit their habit. The surging popularity of e-cigarettes over the recent years is responsible for creating a market already estimated to be worth not less than $7 billion. BAT is not the only major tobacco firm contesting for this market, but Japan Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris are equally positioning their brands. Now that BAT gets approval for their brand first, they might have as well got the key to the advantage that will edge out competition at the moment.
Despite the approval of the BAT’s e-Voke, it is still too early to say that e-cigarettes are not associated with any long-term effects. These products are still relatively new in the market, so there hasn’t been enough time yet for any research to confirm if they are 100% safe or they can’t cause any effects to users over the long term. In the meantime, MHRA is encouraging more manufacturers to submit applications for their e-cigs or other products containing nicotine to be considered for licensing as medicines.
Traditionally, smoking cessation therapies sponsored by the state in the UK have included things such as gums, nicotine-replacement patches, inhalers and drugs for numbing cravings. The e-Voke e-cig is now joining this category of treatments after satisfying the necessary MHRA standards in terms of quality, safety and the ability to help effectively minimize smoking harms. The cartridges of this particular brand of e-cigarettes contain pharmaceutical-grade nicotine.
It is probably much different from Vype, another BAT’s popular e-cigarette brand. After the approval was secured, BAT has announced on its website that it is coming up with plans to commercialize the new product. It is therefore not likely going to be available in any subsidized prices despite the fact that the NHS will be expected to prescribe it for people interested in quitting tobacco cigarette smoking.
Although the approval of the first e-cigarette by the MHRA must be significant to the big tobacco manufacturers, more regulations of these products are expected and will certainly present some uncertainties. This is because the EU is expected to come up with new rules by May this year, to declare e-cigarettes as tobacco-related products. It will be interesting to see how this is going to play out in the light of the steps the MHRA has already taken. However, the other big companies competing with BAT are also likely to submit applications for their products to be also considered for approval as tobacco cessation medicines.
Vaping culture has been rapidly spreading with many celebrities identifying with some of the biggest brands that have already penetrated the market. Although e-cigarettes have been often marketed and presented as the healthier alternative to smoking the traditional tobacco cigarettes, it is estimated that only about a third of the current users were previously smokers who quit and switched to vaping.
Perhaps the new move by the MHRA is going to increase confidence in the use of the new devices. This is likely going to accelerate the numbers of current smokers switching to e-cigs. BAT definitely gets headway into this lucrative market, but it is still too early to predict whether e-cigarettes will go mainstream from here.
Globally, there has been unrelenting efforts from various organizations and countries seeking for more strict regulations on usage of tobacco products. Despite the expected EU regulations classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco related products, the MHRA approval of the first e-cigarette brand is undeniably the game changer. It is not just a win for BAT only but also all the other big manufacturers of e-cigarettes and related products. More regulations around these products can also have the advantage of forcing manufacturers to adhere to even higher standards. Hopefully, they may all finally end up making high quality e-cigarette products that can be proven to be 100% safe.