Why are we concerned about e-cigarettes?
These devices directly undermine the effects and intentions of existing legislation including the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to replicate smoking behaviour without the use of tobacco. Some look like conventional cigarettes, while others appear more like an electronic device.
They use heat to vaporise a liquid-based solution containing nicotine into an aerosol mist and have been proposed as a way to help smokers quit the habit.
But there is a lack of rigorous, peer-reviewed studies to support the use of e-cigarettes as a safe and effective nicotine-replacement therapy. They are also subject to limited regulation, and are not licensed as a medicine in the UK.
These devices may also undermine efforts to prevent or stop smoking by making cigarette use seem normal in public and at work.
At the BMA's annual meeting, our members agreed that e-cigarettes should be included in the ban on smoking in public places.
Read our BMA briefing for the latest advice for health professionals asked about
e-cigarettes by their patients.
Progress in European Parliament
In October 2013, the European Parliament passed a draft law to introduce a raft of measures aimed at curbing tobacco's appeal to young people, including regulation of e-cigarettes.
- E-cigarettes would be regulated, but not to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventative properties
- E-cigarettes for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, carry health warnings and should not be sold to those aged under 18 years
- Manufacturers and importers would have to supply a list of all ingredients
- E-cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.
Find out more