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Why I choose to stock e-cigarettes

From Mrs A. Cawdron, MRPharmS


Having this week received a booklet regarding the sale of electronic cigarettes from pharmacies (containing material reprinted from The Journal, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the National Pharmacy Association), I feel moved to join the debate.

Over time I have received a number of queries from patients regarding e-cigarettes. I explained that these were unlicensed products and that their sale was not encouraged from pharmacies.

I tried to engage these patients with the licensed nicotine replacement treatment we had available and to offer smoking cessation advice and support, including referral to the local NHS stop smoking service. In most cases the patients, although grateful for the advice, left the pharmacy to seek e-cigarettes elsewhere, usually from the internet.

After careful consideration and researching some of the many different brands of e-cigarettes available I decided to stock this product.

We discuss the health risks associated with smoking when patients ask for e-cigarettes and give the same advice we would give to patients requesting licensed NRT products, including referral options. We encourage patients to cut down or stop smoking completely while at the same time explaining that the e-cigarette contains nicotine, an addictive and harmful substance. The products we stock are available with different nicotine content (some have no nicotine) and we encourage patients to step down to a lower nicotine strength over time.

We do not keep e-cigarettes on the counter or available for self-selection nor do we actively promote their sale.

I have carefully read the PJ article (18/25 August 2012, p180), which appeared in the booklet. Aside from an example of a battery exploding, there do not appear to be any references to actual harm caused by e-cigarettes [see Panel “Some evidence so far” — EDITOR].

I am aware that e-cigarettes fall into a grey area whereby they are not classified either as medicinal products or medicinal devices, nor are they classified as tobacco products. As such there is no standardisation or control over the many products that are available.

The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association appears to be a self-regulating organisation and I am not sure what validity membership confers. However, it appears to be working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to try to clear up the regulatory situation.

I would prefer to sell a licensed standardised product. However, until one becomes available, I believe that the sale of e-cigarettes is a valid means of harm reduction for smokers who are not yet ready to give up the sensation of smoking, especially when sold from a setting where advice and support is provided.


Anne Cawdron

Halifax

 

Community pharmacies may have been sent a booklet containing material on electronic cigarettes from The Pharmaceutical Journal, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the National Pharmacy Association. This booklet was produced for Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Nicorette products, sponsored by Webber Shandwick, and this information should have been declared in the booklet. — EDITOR.

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11108584

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