“Don’t treat e-cigarettes as medicines; glamorise them”

Fantastic piece originally posted in The Times about an egregious example of regulation doing more harm than good – well worth a read.

Should shampoo be classified as a medicine and prescribed by doctors? It can, after all, cause harm: it can sting your eyes and a recent study found traces of carcinogens in 98 shampoo products. Sure, shampoo can clean hair if used responsibly. But what’s to stop cowboy shampoo makers selling dangerous shampoo to the young? Far too many shampoo manufacturers try to glamorize their product. Time for the state to step in.

Far fetched? If only. This week the European Parliament sensibly declined to accept the European Commission’s directive to regulate as medicines those glowing-tipped electronic nicotine vapour dispensers called e-cigarettes. The British government, astonishingly, expressed its disappointment at the vote, and still intends to treat e-cigarettes as medicines from 2016. “We believe these products need to be regulated as medicines and will continue to make this point during further negotiations,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health said. Who’s “we”, by the way?

All the signs are that “vaping” is rapidly gaining market share from smoking. Having begun as an ingenious innovation in China in the early 2000s, the e-cigarette is now big business, with sales of more than £2 billion this year, and with the number of users doubling in some parts of the world just in the last year or so. The big tobacco firms are rushing to acquire the Chinese start-ups or their knowhow, a sure sign that they expect to lose customers to vaping. And they will: vaping helps people stop smoking.

Matt Ridley: Rational Optimist

Read the rest of the story here

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