Vapers In Power (VIP) has reacted with some concern to the news that the regulation of electronic cigarettes has been handed by the government to The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guided by the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). VIP is worried that the interests of e-cigarette users, or vapers, will not be properly represented by a body more used to working with the pharmaceutical industry.
VIP is a political party and pressure group formed last year to represent the interests of The United Kingdom’s estimated two and a half million vapers. It is one of several vapers’ groups that are expected to urge the MHRA to accept their assistance in formulating regulatory policy in this critical area. Spokeswoman Jessica Harding has said “We hope the MHRA will take heed of our extensive experience of vaping and the desire of vapers to be involved in decisions that affect their future use of this life-saving technology. What we need is an inclusive and considered approach to regulation which we hope will be followed by other European regulatory bodies.”
VIP is anxious that the MHRA is fully aware of the importance of vaping in the reduction of smoking in Britain, and concerned that heavy handed regulation of e-cigarettes will drive vapers back to smoking. Properly considered regulation will recognise the vital role played by this country’s rapidly developing e-cigarette manufacturers and importers, rather than handing control back to the Pharmaceutical and Tobacco industries whose interests in the matter hardly coincide with those who are trying to quit smoking.
The use of e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking has largely been driven by consumers. It has proved highly effective when contrasted with more traditional replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and chewing gum. But it is the vapers themselves who are the experts in the use of e-cigarettes. Improvements to vaping equipment has largely been driven by small, innovative companies reacting to consumer demand. Any system of regulation which does not take account of the interests of consumers is doomed to failure.
VIP is proposing that the MHRA sets up a consumer panel of experienced vapers to advise on the regulatory framework and offers to work with the regulators to ensure that any subsequent legislation balances the need for the safe usage of e-cigarettes with the demands of a well-established consumer market for properly designed equipment and high quality e-juices – the liquid vapourised to provide the smoke substitute.