The issue on electronic cigarettes is fast getting worldwide attention, and even the medical community is sitting up and paying more attention. In the United Kingdom, doctors are also pitching their voices and opinions on matters surrounding the use, distribution, and regulation of e-cigs.
To get a clearer picture on the stance of UK doctors when it comes to the e-cigs issue, an online network comprised of doctors in the UK conducted a survey, with its doctor members as the respondents. The results of the survey were, to say the least, quite interesting.
It was clear from the beginning that not all doctors have a consensus on whether electronic cigarettes should even be sold. As a matter of fact, 16% of those surveyed preferred that they be banned and taken off the market, while 75% support the manufacture and distribution of these products.
Another matter taken up was the propriety of selling e-cigarettes in local pharmacies, instead of convenience stores, vaping shops, or even online stores. 40%, or two out of five doctors, thought that pharmacies should be allowed to hold e-cigs in their inventory. 31% suggested that e-cigs be made more accessible and available in all retail locations, not just pharmacies.
This also led to the question on whether e-cigs should be sold by pharmacies only if a prescription is presented. Again, the reaction was divided: 14% of the respondents agreed that e-cigs should only be sold to those with prescriptions, while 40% preferred that they should be made available over the counter.
If it were up to Dr. James Quekett, selling e-cigs in pharmacies, subject to the presentation of a prescription, is one way to treat it as pharmaceuticals. This is especially true for those who view e-cigs as a means to quit smoking, so they use it as a form of nicotine replacement therapy. Still, he reiterates that e-cigs are not medicines or, at least, they are not classified and subsequently regulated as such. Despite claims and blurbs made by manufacturers about them, there is still no assurance what is truly contained in them. Thus, he cautioned doctors against advising their patients that e-cigs are completely safe. Neither should doctors also treat e-cigs as a tool that will have good long-term effects on health, because there is really no assurance of that fact.
Making e-cigs available over the counter is also advocated by Dr. Michael Blackmore, a retired physician. He is concerned with the impact of e-cigs when it comes to cardiovascular health. The supposed reduced risks in e-cigs due to the absence of nicotine, which is found in regular tobacco products, is almost a guarantee that people will use them more often, and Blackmore wanted to know if e-cigs will contribute to increasing cardiovascular health risks. Until a clear picture has been formed on this matter, e-cigs distribution should be limited to pharmacies.
A formal announcement has been made by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency regarding the regulation of electronic cigarettes as medicines starting this coming 2016. The purpose of this regulation is to see to it that e-cigs are proven safe and effective, and will actually help those smokers who wish to quit.
To put it simply, UK doctors are not really asking that e-cigarettes be banned or declared unlawful. Instead, stricter and proper monitoring measures must be put in place while further studies on its effects and potential impacts are being conducted.