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When we first started Ecigwizard, just over 24 months ago, we did it because we saw a viable business opportunity. We’ve never hid that. Originally, we started with one staff member, and we are now approaching 30 members of staff. The last 24 months have been the most exciting in my life, as I’ve been involved in the innovation of the latest technology in ecigs and eliquid.

Ecigwizard is the first business I’ve been involved in where I’ve truly felt happy in the service provided. I say happy, because I’ve seen countless smokers come to our doors, and walk away “vapers”. They’ve thrown away the cigarettes, and the death sentence.

It’s not hard as a vaper, and ex-smoker, to be enthusiastic 24 hours a day about a product that does so much good!

Enter MHRA

Today MHRA circulated a press release on their stance on electronic cigarettes. As vapers, we’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time. It is worth noting MHRA are mainly funded by pharma companies. The same pharma companies whose products are likely to have taken a hit since the rise in popularity and success of ecigs.

There have already been responses to the statement from both Ecita and Clive Bates. If you haven’t already read Clive Bates’ blog, I suggest you do. In a sea of bureaucracy, corruption and misinformation, Clive Bates is a bright light for us vapers. We are quoting in large from Clive’s response today.

First, to the brunt and bottom line of the MHRA’s statement:

“All nicotine-containing products (NCPs), such as electronic cigarettes, are to be regulated as medicines in a move to make these products safer and more effective to reduce the harms of smoking.”

Jeremy Mean, the MHRA’s Group Manager of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines said:

“The decision announced today provides a framework that will enable good quality products to be widely available. It’s not about banning products that some people find useful, it’s about making sure that smokers have an effective alternative that they can rely on to meet their needs.”

Really? How will that work?

Products such as nicotine patches, gums etc are already regulated as NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) products. But how successful are these licensed products? From Ecita:

“…this does not address the fact that these licensed products FAIL for over 95% of smokers trying to stop smoking.”

In terms of costs and logistics, the process of becoming ‘regulated’ costs hundreds of thousands of pounds PER PRODUCT and takes around two years.

To put that into perspective, when we talk ‘per product’, this means every single e liquid & e-juiceflavour, every cartomiser, tank, battery etc.

Even with the money tobacco companies have made from the problem they caused, they are still likely to reap the benefits. If this motion is to pass, with their deep pockets, they will be able to lap up the ecig market, post regulation.

The same tobacco companies that created the problem and now are poised to profit from the cure.

You couldn’t make it up!

Back to the proposed ‘regulation’, Clive Bates states:

“The real health challenge is to get e-cigarettes to eat into cigarette sales as rapidly as possible, and for as many smokers as possible to switch. This type of regulation works against that. A limited authorised range of dull but perfectly safe medicialised products that no-one wants to use is worthless and counterproductive.”

Electronic cigarettes work because they are a fantastic innovation. They give the ex-smoker what they want, without causing harm to their health. The different flavours give a real attractive alternative to smoking and as such, they work.

If the government is to have its own way, then you can expect a staple tobacco product, in a ‘ciggalike’ pack, at extortionate prices. Although on the plus side, given it borrows from the electronic cigarette design, it’ll be at least more effective than the NRT’s available.

Clive Bates continues, Ecigarettes are not medicines:

“E-cigarettes are not medicines – it is poor policymaking to just hammer them into a regulatory framework designed for something else. They should design something specific to the products, starting with consumer protection legislation, and extending it if needed (the approach taken with cosmetics for example).”

We are vapers. We are not sick. We do not need medicine, so don’t try and prescribe us it.

“Medicines regulation involves disproportionate costs, compliance burdens and restrictions – none of which apply to cigarettes. So this is a good day for the cigarette makers, and their competition will be weakened. We need regulation to encourage these products to compete with cigarettes, not smother them with red tape.”

Again, in cloud cuckoo land, where the policy makers are currently residing, electronic cigarettes, which have burnt a hole in cigarette sales are put up for medicinal regulation. That’s right, the first invention that has grasped smokers from the jaws of tobacco death, is staring the red-tape brigade square on in the face.

You couldn’t make it up!

“Medicines regulation will slow down innovation – the lengthy and costly authorisation process does not lend itself to rapid change or the more experimental approach to innovation that works for consumer products (ie. try lots of things and invest in what works or follow changing tastes and buzz).”

Ecigarettes have been such a huge success, because of the invention of new technology. Ignoring the Joe Bloggs / mass market ciggalike, the tanks, the rebuildables have all attributed to the soaring success of electronic cigarettes as a viable smoking alternative. The liquids make this product work.

Regulation will knock this all on the head, and put a dumb-dumb staple product as the only option. Yet even more interference from an ever growing ‘Nanny State’ that makes 1984 read like a children’s book.

“Medicines regulation will reduce the diversity of products available – the process has to be repeated for each product – slow and time consuming and not worth it for niche products. Many products will be deemed unsuitable or will never be put forward in the first place. This is bad because it narrows the potential appeal and removes some of the pleasures vapers find in experimenting with new products. It is likely that regulators will impose counterproductive restrictions to the product design – for example the dozens of frivolous flavours are part of the appeal as an alternative to smoking – but will the stern suits of the MHRA really approve ‘pina colada’ flavour?”

Absolutely not, as above, say goodbye to your Vanilla, Cola, maybe even Menthol flavours.

“Medicines regulation requires pharmaceutical ‘clean room’ room manufacturing facilities – this is regulatory overkill, given that most consumer nicotine is delivered in a filthy mix of burning particles of tobacco and hot toxic gases. But the current supply chain is long and extends to China – most factories will not be able to attain this standard, so MHRA will destroy the existing supply chain.”

In our case, we already have clean room facilities in place. Our PG/VG and nicotine base is pharmaceutical grade. Our flavourings are all food grade. We have extensive batch testing in place to ensure the correct levels of nicotines in our e-liquid. So, contrary the the churlish ignorance that has been splashed around the media today, we do monitor and regulate nicotine content in our e-liquid.

Of course, as we’ve said before, we welcome light regulation that makes this a standard- something that a small handful of businesses flout. But why punish the many e-liquid / ecig companies, such as ourselves, that have been so careful to put such quality control in, in the first place?

“They want to substitute their own view of ‘efficacy‘ (what works) for the consumers’ view. Markets work by people buying the good products and the poor products failing, not by regulators deciding what works. It would be different if they were making health claims, and could be tested to see if the claim are valid. But the e-cig vendors aren’t making any claims. The truth is they don’t know what efficacy means with e-cigarettes.”

The bulk of the statement reads as though they know very little about the respectable ecig vendors.

“What the e-cigarette sector doesn’t need is ‘boring’. That has been tried and failed with NRT. It needs marketing verve, style and buzz, not the dull deadening hand of bureaucratic approvals. That applies to product design, packing, marketing, sponsorship – the works… the public health challenge is to get as many smokers to switch as possible, not to make perfectly safe products that no-one wants.”

As quoted above, NRT has a less than 5% success rate. I’m pretty sure you’ve got better odds when chucking ten pound into a fruit machine!

“They will focus on eliminating minute risks but obstruct great potential. There is great danger they will make the products less attractive to smokers who might otherwise switch. So they get the risk down from 99% lower than cigarettes to 99.5%. Big deal… and harmful if it means more people stay smoking as a result. There is no evidence at all of gateway effects – those exist mainly in the imagination of health lobbyists. E-cigs are a major gateway out of smoking, and an alternative to ever smoking.”

The very worse of Orwellian bureaucracy. As of yet, there has been no harm linked to vaping. In fact, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos found:

“First toxiology study on vapor electronic cigarettes are much better than tobacco.”

Finally, from Clive Bates:

“This will give a boost to the home-made and black market – all likely to be more dangerous than a lightly regulated commercial market. So it will fail anyway.”

A prevalent and worrying menace in our industry. There are too many unscrupulous people that have jumped on the bandwagon, selling e-liquid in bottles marked with biro (zero respect, let alone knowledge for CHIP compliancy).

There are ‘vendors’ out there, totally unregulated selling extremely questionable, and in some cases, dangerous products.

Please regulate them!

However, we shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush. There are so many responsible, excellent ecig vendors (large and small) that have taken extensive care and cost to look after their customers.

For the sake of the lives of us millions of vapers, do not remove our alternative to smoking. The bland, medicinal pharma product might make the big companies money, but as previously tested, has a less than 5% success rate.

Should MHRA get their own way, this will be a death sentence to the millions of ex smokers, turned to vapers.

There is hope in abundance

There is plenty of hope. This is a fight, and a fight we as vapers must win.

It is worth noting, mirror organisations in Holland and Germany, both put across the same proposals, which were thrown out in court. The year before the proposed ruling, in 2015, there will be general election held. Now is time to tell your politicians what you think and to give them their support. If they listen to your views and rights.

Finally, an official statement from our Managing Director, Aaron Taylor:

As a company it has always been our policy to supply a safe and quality product which provides efficacy to all of our customers regardless of need.

We pride ourselves in meeting all current regulations and going beyond by carrying out extra steps such as full traceability and regular GC-MS testing.

Our site and retail outlets have always followed a strict protocol of not selling to anyone under the age of 18, this would go against the industry as a whole, and anyone doing this should not be part of our industry.

In its current understood form medical marketing authority licensing would “kill” the electronic cigarette industry as we currently know it. It would likely mean being limited to using one product, with a few variations on flavour from 2016.

Our company alongside Ecita fully intend to legally challenge any unsuitable regulation which may appear in the next few years.

Electronic Cigarettes LTD will endeavor to provide a licensed product should we be forced down that route, however, as mentioned above this product will be severely limited.

As an organisation we hope the MHRA will take a different approach to this regulation and listen to the consumer, businesses currently operating ethically, and health experts who have given their invaluable opinion supporting electronic cigarettes.

Many thanks for your continued support,

Aaron Taylor
Managing Director
Electronic Cigarettes LTD.