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E-cigarettes

Healthcare professionals urged to report side effects of e-cigarettes

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is calling on members of the public and healthcare professionals to report any suspected side effects or safety concerns with e-cigarettes and the e-liquids used for vaping.

The MHRA, which regulates medicines and medical devices in the UK, monitors the safety of healthcare products via the Yellow Card Scheme. It is urging members of the public and healthcare professionals to use this site to report any concerns.

It follows the introduction of new regulations on e-cigarette safety by the Tobacco Directive on 20 May 2017. Under the new rules, the size of an e-cigarette tank should not exceed 2ml and the maximum nicotine strength of liquids is set at 20mg/ml. At least 30% of the front and the back of packaging must contain a health warning saying: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.”

Although the rules contain no specific restrictions on flavours or standard formulations, the MHRA has its own guidance on ingredients that should not be included in e-cigarettes or e-liquids. 

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, says: “There are currently 2.9 million e-cigarette users in Great Britain, over half of whom have quit smoking. E-cigarettes are playing an important role in supporting smokers to switch from tobacco smoking. The new regulations which require notification to the MHRA about the products should give people further confidence in the e-cigarette market. As the market continues to develop we hope to see products go through the more stringent licensing process and become licensed as medicines and available on prescription.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203085

Readers' comments (5)

  • As a long-term vaper I must say I have noticed some side effects; my clothes and car don't stink anymore, my mouth doesn't taste like an ashtray and my general health and breathing is much improved.

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  • The only side effect apart from johns comment I have noticed is as an asthmatic for 20 yrs I'd wake every night to use my inhaler. I've been using an ecig for nearly 12 months and now sleep through the night. I hardly need my inhaler now and my peak flow is a lot higher than it was compared to last year

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  • As someone who smoked for over 20 years I stated vaping and haven't looked back. The side effects I've noticed are I don't stink, i don't get out of breath and I no longer get chest infections every winter. To be talking of registering them
    As medicines and making them available on prescription stinks of big pharma getting involved and hoping to make some money because the NRT they currently offer is ineffective. 95% safer than smoking. No more to say

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  • I started smoking when I was twelve years old. It tried various ways to stop, unsuccessfully. I tried my first vape equipment at the age of 36 and have not had a single cigarette since. Side effects have been 100% positive. Not a single tight chest from it, not one chest infection since vaping, whereas I used to get at least 2 per year while smoking. To regulate vaping to death is a frightening concept, please don't meddle and ruin what has been a ray shining hope for thousands who felt destined to bad health and an early grave - leave it alone.

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  • I was a smoker for more than thirty years. Since becoming a vaper more than 4 years ago, I have not smoked tobacco, nor have I wanted to. I had tried the many varied products offered, including NRT, none of which worked. They are generally worse than useless. The giant tobacco and pharmaceutical companies are now trying their damndest to take over the vaping industry by persuading health organisation, who they fund, to over regulate the vaping industry. They are also big players in government, where they bribe and pay to get their way, terrified their huge profits and influence might be undermined, regardless of the cost to public health. Thus with vaping, they wish to take over, to regulate the industry out of being so they can charge huge money for ineffective products, driving people back to tobacco and so hanging on to the profits they gain from treating the effects of smoking. The vaping industry should be supported, encouraged and left alone. I have only had benefits from vaping. There are no detrimental side effects. I am healthier, happier and in control. And will not become a burden on the NHS, nor will require pharmaceutical products in the future to counter the effects of smoking tobacco. By adding more and more regulation, across the world, governments, pharmaceutical companies and tobacco companies may well be condemning millions of people to death. The biggest gain for me is that my son, also a smoker, is now a vaper and will benefit for far longer from this much healthier alternative, providing the vaping industry is left alone to develop properly without prejudice and profiteering from big pharmaceutical companies and major tobacco companies. Why don't governments and health professionals listen to the actual evidence and science? Just how deeply are they in your pockets?

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