Doctors are divided on the need to regulate the free market today.
The electronic cigarette , that has become an object of consumption accessible to all, it must be classified as a drug? The issue has sparked a heated controversy several months, including among physicians specializing in the fight against smoking, and intense lobbying in Europe. It will be decided Tuesday by the European Parliament on the occasion of the review of the directive on tobacco products.
“With this change in status, there is the desire to change the perception of the product, which is not trivial, reaffirming its role as a tool for smoking cessation,” said a spokesman for the European Commission , causing the text. If electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is a drug, it will be sold only in pharmacies and not in specialty shops that have flourished since its introduction in France in 2008. It will also be subject to the authorization procedure on the market that involves the production of scientific studies proving its effectiveness in smoking cessation, but its lack of toxicity.
Less Harmful than Tobacco
French Office for the Prevention of smoking, such a decision would sign the end of “vapotage” free and as such would be “against-productive” to public health. “The 90% of users who have no desire to quit smoking will not go to procure pharmaceuticals and actually lose a benefit to their health,” notes its president, Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg . Although the safety of the electronic cigarette is not demonstrated, the pulmonologist said that it is “infinitely” less harmful than tobacco, which kills 73,000 people each year. “It contains much less harmful substances or solid particles, or tar or other carcinogenic substances or carbon monoxide (CO),” it said in its report submitted to the spring to Minister of Health .
Another figure in the fight against smoking, Professor Yves Martinet is much more reserved, in the case of an object that delivers “a very powerful drug.” According to him, “only the pharmacist respect the ban on sales to minors. It will also inform users that the reduction in the number of cigarettes does not reduce long-term mortality and may be a step towards a complete stop. ” With the adoption of drug status, the associations also hope to remove the electronic cigarette from the clutches of tobacco, which is very interested in this market. “The goal of the industry will attract new customers, and notes the National Committee for the Fight against smoking. The risk is great to see non-smoking convert and become addicted to tobacco, starting with the electronic version. “
The Circle of “Vapoteurs” Widened
For their part, the opposing regulation tobaccologists see a link between the increasingly important continuing decline in cigarette sales in France last year and the number of followers of this ersatz. In five years, the circle of “vapoteurs” has expanded into effect. In an open letter published Monday, ten doctors therefore defend the widest possible access to this product, they are “very effective in helping smokers quit smoking.” Moreover, a recent study published in The Lancet finds a slightly higher efficiency of the e-cigarette in smoking cessation compared to the patch sold in pharmacies.
Members may ultimately opt for a compromise solution, eg a product classification less restrictive health drug status. Their vote is in any way a step in the legislative process. Negotiations on the text will then engage with the Council of Ministers. The Directive does not apply until 2017, does not lead to an immediate withdrawal of the electronic cigarette market.
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