E-Cigarettes

We are currently in the process of updating our e-cigarette policy, looking at the new evidence which has emerged since the policy was published in 2014. 

Since 2014 the revised European Union Tobacco Directive has been transposed into UK law, providing minimum standards for quality and safety of e cigarette products and Public Health England have published several reports promoting the role of e-cigarettes in harm reduction.

The Science and Research Board has appointed an expert working group to review the current evidence. Their findings will inform the updated policy which should be finalised by summer 2019.

The group are looking at several key areas including any emerging evidence around potential toxicity from carriers and excipients; use in adolescents; the place of e–cigarettes in smoking cessation programmes and the effects of long term exposure to second hand e-cigarette vapour/aerosols. 

In the meantime, if you have any queries about this work please contact [email protected]

Policy topic

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are a nicotine inhaling product first developed in 2003 by Hon Lik, a pharmacist in China. The growing prevalence in the use of e-cigarettes has raised questions as whether they are to be considered a lifestyle choice and restricted in a similar way to other tobacco products, or a medicinal product for smoking cessation that requires rigorous regulation.

We have expressed concern over possible safety issues of using e-cigarettes, as well as a lack of evidence of their efficacy when used for smoking cessation. Despite this, the organisation recognises they have a potential role to play in helping smokers reduce and stop smoking in the short term, or as a pathway to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs).

We recommend that policy-makers must do everything they can to avoid a new generation of people becoming addicted to nicotine. This is particularly important in light of the current lack of evidence in relation to long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes, and their secondhand emissions.

As such, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society would recommend the following policy actions as a matter of priority to minimise the potential undermining of existing public health tobacco control measures:

  • The Government should ensure that any e-cigarettes not licensed as medicinal products have advertising and sales restricted in line with the restrictions of tobacco products.
  • The UK and Scottish Governments should follow the Welsh Government policy and include e-cigarettes in the public spaces smoking ban to avoid the normalisation of e-cigarettes and their potential negative influences on lifestyle choices, particularly for young people.

Policy documents