Healthcare authorities around the world are grappling with how to regulate the battery-driven devices, which enables users to inhale nicotine-laced vapor.
A few countries have banned them outright – such as Brazil, Norway and Singapore – while others are opting for varying degrees of regulation, in some cases including limits on advertising and curbs on its use in public places.
Sales of e-cigarettes have sky-rocketed in recent years, but their long-term effects are as yet unproven and some doctors argue their popularity could undermine anti-smoking efforts.
Under the new British system, manufacturers will have to prove the quality of their products and demonstrate that they deliver the correct amount of nicotine.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in Britain, existing e-cigarettes on the market were not good enough, with contaminants found in some products and nicotine levels often varying widely.
Jeremy Mean of the MHRA said the government had decided against banning existing poor-quality e-cigarettes, even though they did not meet desired safety standards, since this could tip some people back into smoking.
“Smoking is the riskiest thing you can do and we want to enable people to cut down and quit. We don’t think a ban is proportionate to the risk, when the alternative is people continuing to smoke,” said Mean.
Sources: Reuters, Today