Al-hadth – Mohammad Agrabawi – Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy – ANDS MEA
Recently, UK’s Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid announced that England could be the first country in the world to prescribe medicinally licensed e-cigarettes to help reduce smoking rates.
This is a big step towards the recognition of the role of ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Solutions) as a cessation tool to help smokers quit cigarettes, and a pathway to quit nicotine use altogether.
The decision will lead to these products being prescribed by smoking clinics as a medical tool to quit cigarettes, implying that these can also be covered by the national medical insurance system.
So, what’s next? It is important to consider that the decision will need considerable cooperation among the manufacturers, Health authorities, and regulators to determine the effectiveness and safety of these products.
They must also comply with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) rules. This means the time has come for the industry to share substantiated data about the results of accredited testing of these products as well as details about the markers of exposure on the human body, and the level of reduction of Harmful and Potentially Harmful Compounds (HPHCs) these products have compared to conventional cigarettes.
The decision should also be underpinned by the manufacturers’ commitment to direct such products towards legal age smokers, while protecting vulnerable groups, such as ex-smokers, non-smokers, and especially minors and youth.
The decision comes weeks after the USFDA permitted the marketing of e-cigarette products, the first authorization of its kind by the Agency. This also marks the first set of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products to be authorized by the FDA through the Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) pathway.
Such movements by countries with an advanced health care system show how far this category has grown, and how scientific data and research, alongside proper regulatory and fiscal treatment, would live up to the aspirations of hundreds of millions of smokers who are willing to quit smoking.
It is a shout-out for all government and regulators to understand that such milestones will change the life of millions of smokers across the world.