A Public Health England (PHE) report scotching concerns that non-smoking children who have tried e-cigarettes will go on to smoke tobacco has been welcomed by a leading supplier, Nicolites.
The company made the comments after the PHE-commissioned study, undertaken by the University of Stirling, found no evidence that under-age users of e-cigarettes will go on to smoke conventional cigarettes.
The report, E-cigarette uptake and marketing, drew on existing studies and articles to examine the concern about whether the marketing of e-cigarettes makes them appealing to under-18s.
Linda Bauld, chairwoman of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance development group, and Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling, looked at a range of data from the UK, USA, Poland, South Korea, and France between 2010 and 2013.
Her report says although e-cigarettes are marketed as lifestyle products and come in different flavours: “We could not identify any evidence to suggest that non-smoking children who tried e-cigarettes were more likely to then try tobacco.”
Nicolites managing director Nikhil Nathwani welcomed the findings and backed Prof Bauld’s calls for longitudinal studies (those conducted over a long period of time that monitor risk) to ensure that young people who access e-cigarettes do not go on to smoke tobacco.
“We have unequivocally maintained that e-cigarettes should be aimed at the adult market and are for those smokers who are looking for an alternative to cigarettes,” he said.
“As such, we are very pleased to see a robust academic report finding no evidence that children who might get their hands on these products will go on to smoke tobacco,” said Nikhil. “While we accept that there are limitations on the studies used in the report commissioned by Public Health England, we accept the conclusion it comes to and would welcome further research into the matter.”
The PHE/University of Stirling report comes 12 months after NICE issued guidance endorsing cutting down on smoking with the help of licensed nicotine products to help reduce the harm caused by tobacco.
Electronic cigarettes were not included in the guidance as they are not a licensed nicotine product, although Nicolites has already backed the announcement by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to license the products as a medicine. The company also welcomes tighter regulations in their marketing.
Nikhil said although marketing of e-cigarettes and related products was essential in a rapidly growing sector – in 2013, the market was worth £193 million and it is estimated that it will grow to £340 million by 2015 – it was clear that tightening up regulations to ensure the products are obviously aimed at adults was needed.