Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Should electronic cigarettes be as freely available as tobacco cigarettes? No

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3840
  1. Simon Chapman, professor of public health
  1. 1University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  1. simon.chapman{at}

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has decided to license electronic cigarettes as medicines from 2016. Simon Chapman agrees with regulation, seeing e-cigarettes as another way for big tobacco to try to make nicotine addiction socially acceptable again, but Jean-François Etter (doi:10.1136/bmj.f3845) says restrictions will result in more harm to smokers

Amid the feverish embrace of electronic cigarettes, come several statements by the tobacco industry that should cause public health proponents of such products to get a grip. For example, the chief executive of Reynolds America told shareholders in November 2012, just six months before entering the e-cigarette market, “We have a little mantra inside of the company . . . which we call the 80-90-90 . . . We spend about 80% of our resources in the combustible space. The combustible space is still 80%, 80+% of our operating income . . . [and] 90% of the organizational focus . . . And despite a lot of these new innovations that you see coming out, 90% of our R&D [research and development] budgets are actually directed at the combustible category . . . That is the category that’s still going …

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