LONDON, June 12 Britain is to regulate
electronic cigarettes as non-prescription medicine from 2016 in
an attempt to improve quality, though the country's drugs
watchdog said they would still be sold in convenience stores.
Healthcare authorities around the world are grappling with
how to deal with the battery-driven devices, which allow users
to inhale nicotine-laced vapour and are increasingly popular as
a less harmful alternative to smoking.
A few countries have banned them - such as Brazil, Norway
and Singapore - while others are opting for varying degrees of
regulation, in some cases including restrictions on advertising
and curbs on their use in public places.
Under the new British system, manufacturers will have to
prove the quality of their products and demonstrate that they
deliver the correct amount of nicotine. But they will not need
to conduct clinical trials.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
(MHRA) said on Wednesday that existing e-cigarettes on the
market were not good enough. However, manufacturers have time to
raise their game and apply for a licence, allowing them to sell
regulated devices as over-the-counter products from 2016.
A growing number of established tobacco companies are
investing in the e-cigarette market worldwide, including
Lorillard, British American Tobacco, Imperial
Tobacco, Reynolds American and Altria.