There have been a number of articles in the press recently about electronic cigarettes, devices that seem to offer an acceptable alternative to smoking that costs less than traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). These are a relatively new innovation and even though they are not licensed or regulated they still contain what is basically a drug – nicotine, so Weldricks Pharmacy wants to ensure our customers are aware of the pros and cons of using these devices so they can make an informed choice about their use.
What are E-cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices designed to look like cigarettes but without containing any tobacco. They contain a heating element which vaporises a nicotine solution in a cartridge that turns in to a fine mist resembling cigarette smoke. As the vapour is inhaled an LED lights up at the end of the e-cigarette to mimic burning tobacco.
The solution for inhalation can either be housed in a cartridge that slots in to the device or be provided in a bottle and poured in. Along with nicotine various flavourings can also be used depending on the solution used, some solutions are also available just with the flavourings and without the nicotine. E-cigarettes can either be disposable or re-chargeable (usually via a USB port).
What are the issues with E-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are not licensed or regulated at present, which is not an ideal situation when you consider that you are essentially using a device that has an element that heats up to create the vapour right next to a battery, which you then put in your mouth. There have been instances of poor quality e-cigarettes exploding due to an overheated battery, so if you choose to use an e-cigarette make sure you go for an established, well-made brand.
In June 2013, the UK regulator for medicines announced plans to license electronic cigarettes as medicines by 2016. This is due to growing concern about the safety and quality of these unlicensed products and the varying nicotine content compared to the label on the packaging. The overall aim is to ensure that only high-quality products are available to help support smokers reduce their smoking and to eventually quit.
As some people find e-cigarettes useful in cutting down and stopping smoking the decision has been made not to ban e-cigarettes now, but to work towards having products that are safe and effective. By 2016, all e-cigarettes will have to meet the safety, quality and effectiveness requirements of a medicine and meet the same standards as nicotine gum and patches.
If e-cigarettes are not licensed why does Weldricks Pharmacy sell them?
Weldricks Pharmacy have made the decision to continue to sell e-cigarettes as it is clear they are a popular product and we would rather our customers have the opportunity to buy them from a registered pharmacy premises or website where help and support is available to assist with smoking cessation. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure we only sell quality products and act promptly if we receive reports of faulty products, withdrawing them from sale. As soon as a licensed e-cigarette becomes available we will look to add it to the range of products we offer.
Anyone who is interested in stopping smoking should try licensed and regulated NRT therapies in the first instance, and our staff have training to allow them to provide you with the information and advice you need, not only when considering stopping smoking, but also for your medicine and minor ailment queries. However, there is no arguing with the fact that some people find e-cigarettes useful in cutting down and quitting smoking, and should a customer wish to use them we can still provide appropriate advice and support through the e-cigarette products we stock both in branch and on our website at www.weldricks.co.uk.