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E-cigarettes will be regulated as medicines in Britain

June 12, 2013|By Shan Li
  • Electronic cigarettes heat liquid nicotine contained in a disposable cartridge and produce a vapor that can be inhaled.
Electronic cigarettes heat liquid nicotine contained in a disposable… (Tim Ireland / Associated…)

Electronic cigarettes along with products containing nicotine will be classified and licensed as medication in Britainby 2016.

The battery-powered cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, deliver an experience similar to standard cigarettes by heating liquid nicotine in a disposable cartridge and producing a vapor that can be inhaled.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in Britain said in a statement Wednesday that it would regulate all such products to ensure that they are "safe, are of the right quality and work."

"Reducing the harms of smoking to smokers and those around them is a key government health priority," Jeremy Mean, the agency's group manager of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said in a statement. "Our research has shown that existing electronic cigarettes and other nicotine containing products on the market are not good enough to meet this public health priority."

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Britain has been pressuring for a European Union-wide law on regulating nicotine-containing products and expects the legislation to be adopted in 2014 and go into affect in Britain in 2016, the agency said.

Mean said his regulatory group will require manufacturers to disclose information on product quality and how they compare with competitors.

The news comes just a day after tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. officially announced that it was launching its first electronic cigarette, joining the trend toward smokeless products amid a slump in sales of its classic Marlboro brand.

Altria joins competitors such as Lorillard Inc. that have already ventured into electronic cigarettes as their traditional market has been squeezed by health concerns, tighter smoking bans and rising taxes.

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Twitter: @ShanLi

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