Yes, you read that right. It seems the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has actually granted a medical license to an ecig. The e-Voke license was granted to Nicoventures on the 16th of November 2015. Nicoventures may not be a company you’re familiar with but they also make the Vype ecig and are a subsidiary of British American Tobacco. Again, yes, you read that right, the MHRA have granted a medical license to a tobacco company, I do enjoy a good bit of irony.
There will be two types of e-Voke available, one in 10mg (1.0%) and one in 15mg (1.5%) nicotine and they may be available as early as January through the NHS. To obtain the license the e-Voke was compared against the reference product of the 15mg Nicorette Inhaler and a cigarette (Benson & Hedges Gold). The comparison tests determined that:
“Plasma concentrations of nicotine following administration using the e-Voke Inhaler products were higher than those observed after use of the reference product and is likely to be similar to, or less then, exposure resulting from smoking a cigarette.”
So it’s better than a Nicorette Inhaler but not as good as a cigarette. Given all the people who have tried with a Nicorette Inhaler and ended up back on the ciggys, is something that’s still not as good as a cigarette going to be any use to them? Or are people going to be in the exact same situation and feel like they have failed again. The other question I also want to raise is why have they set themselves a nicotine level that’s below the 20mg TPD (Tobacco Product Directive) suggestion? The TPD says that anything below 20mg will be a consumer product and anything over that limit will be medical. So why not bring a 20mg, 25mg or even a 30mg version out and cover all the bases? Maybe that will come in the future when this version turns out to be as useful as a Nicorette Inhaler.
Two bits of information stood out when I was reading through this document the first is this:
“However, nicotine is generally considered to be non-mutagenic and expert opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the World Health Organisation’s International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), do not classify nicotine as a carcinogen, tumour initiator, tumour promoter or co-carcinogen.”
And the second:
“It has been demonstrated that the user will be exposed to inhaled water vapour, which is considered harmless and also to inhaled glycerol. Calculations suggest that the exposure to inhaled glycerol, if the product is used as indicated, is acceptable for the adult patient population and supported by the known toxicology of inhaled glycerol.”
I can find no reference to the flavour of the liquid they will be using, so I can only assume that it will be unflavoured. There is also no reference to if the battery will be used for heating the liquid (but I’m unsure how you get water vapour without heating so I am assuming it is for heating the liquid). If that is the case then it makes me think that the only difference between this and the brands available on the high street is the flavour.
They haven’t given a picture version of what the e-Voke will look like but from reading their description it will look very much like the typical lookalike ecig with a rechargeable battery and plastic cartomiser filled with foam and the liquid. The cartomisers will come in a blister pack of 5, 10 15 or 20 and they suggest that 10 puffs will be the equivalent of 1 ciggy. They also say that the cartridge will hold approximately 130 puffs (13 ciggys worth) and you should use no more than 5 cartridges a day (5 cartridges X 13 ciggys = approx. 65 ciggys to a pack). It may not be the best on the market at the moment but it’s a starting point that will hopefully give more nervous switchers the confidence to try the NHS backed ecig and unlike other NRT it will only be available to over 18’s.
You can take a full look at the license on the MHRA website if you want to learn more.