Higher nicotine levels, better information for smokers on the risks of e-cigarettes and higher age limits. These are the proposals of a broad political committee in the UK.
"E-cigarettes save lives. We need to make sure that message reaches every smoker in the country."
So says Dave Jones, a Conservative Member of the UK Parliament. Together with representatives of a cross-party committee, he notes that the authorities must invest more in harm-reducing nicotine products. If they want to achieve the goal of a smoke-free England by 2030.
"E-cigarettes play an important role"
While the Swedish Parliament is calling for an investigation into the differences in harmful effects between different nicotine products, British politicians are calling for even more measures to entice smokers away from tobacco.
"E-cigarettes play an important role in helping smokers quit smoking. We will continue to build our actions on evidence and ensure that e-cigarettes remain openly available on the market" said Youth Health Minister Jo Churchill in EcigIntelligence,
Calls for higher age limits
At the same time, the committee is considering proposing to raise the age limit for both tobacco and alternative nicotine products as a measure to prevent young people from taking up smoking or vaping. The British Medical Association is proposing a 21-year age limit, which the committee favoured in its presentation to Parliament.
Questioning the EU's nicotine limits
The limit on nicotine levels was also discussed when the committee presented its proposals. As in other countries, the UK has a maximum limit of 20 mg/ml. However, according to British studies, this limit is not based on scientific evidence. For many smokers, especially those suffering from mental health problems, the low nicotine limit is a barrier to switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
"It is important that smokers are able to find a satisfactory level of nicotine in their e-cigarette," says the committee, challenging the limit set by the European Tobacco Directive.
Smokers get the wrong information
The Royal College of Physicians has also called for better information on the relative risk of electronic cigarettes versus smoking. According to several studies, smokers believe that e-cigarettes pose higher or the same risks as cigarette smoking. This is not based on knowledge or current science, according to the association. The risks are only five per cent or less compared to smoking, according to the Royal College of Physicians.
"We need to ensure that the information provided to smokers is evidence-based and shows the benefits of switching nicotine sources. Government should prepare a major information campaign to address the misconceptions" said Mary Glindon, Labour Party.
This summer, the UK Parliament will present the framework for a new 5-year plan for tobacco policy.