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No easy answer on vaping

As we reported recently (PJ 2014;292:154) branches of Boots The Chemists and Lloydspharmacy are selling electronic cigarettes to the public. That Boots is doing so has now been picked up by the Daily Mail. Given the vast readership of that publication it may be that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s fears are well founded: that an impression of legitimacy has been given to these unlicensed products and that the products are proven medicinal devices when, in fact, they are not.

Lloyds sells Nicoventures’s Vype brand and Boots started selling Puritane, made by a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, this week. Never mind the ethics of a pharmacy contributing to the coffers of the tobacco industry (even if it is at arm’s length, as Boots has stated), these multiples have set themselves against the Society, which advises that pharmacies should not sell e-cigarettes, at least until they become regulated products, probably in 2016.

Boots and Lloyds employee pharmacists who are RPS members now find themselves in a difficult position. Do they do what their employers say or what their professional body says? Another consideration is that e-cigarettes are popular, and other pharmacies may balk at Boots and Lloyds having the lion’s share of sales? There is no easy answer, but it is clear that achieving a consensus on the sale of e-cigarettes from pharmacies right now is likely to be a real test for the Society’s leadership.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11135085

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