E-cigarettes are not a medicine

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Munich Administrative Court: E-cigarettes are not a medicine

The smokeless e-cigarettes are not covered by the Medicines Act, the Munich Administrative Court ruled. A manufacturer of the electronic glow sticks was right. A reason for the judgment by the Munich Administrative Court is still pending.

E-cigarettes in court due to the drug law The battery-operated e-cigarettes vaporize so-called liquid by means of a heating coil that develops the sensory effect of classic cigarette smoke. Liquid is sold in many different flavors, including fruity aromas such as "strawberry", "banana" or "lime". In addition to water, the ingredients of the liquid are mostly propylene glycol, glycerin and food flavors. Some of them contain nicotine, others do not. Supporters and opponents of the e-cigarette have long been debating whether they should be classified as medicinal products requiring approval due to the nicotine-containing liquid. This would be problematic for manufacturers because their products would then have to go through an extensive test procedure. In view of the large group of buyers - according to the manufacturer, there are around 2 million consumers in Germany - this would be associated with major losses.

Procedures like those in Munich were already running in other federal states, so last year a manufacturer in North Rhine-Westphalia complained about the classification as a pharmaceutical by the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Health. As a result, the latter was no longer allowed to warn of electronic cigarettes in the old form. In Munich, the administrative court has now ruled in favor of the plaintiff, the electronic cigarette is therefore not subject to pharmaceutical law. Nationwide, however, the legal situation remains controversial. In Austria, nicotine-containing liquids have been a licensed drug since April 2007. There are also different opinions outside the European Union.

The health risks of e-cigarettes There is uncertainty about the health risks of e-cigarettes. The German Cancer Research Center stated in 2011 that "electric cigarettes are not a safe alternative to conventional glow sticks". Some liquids would therefore have carcinogenic ingredients such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are “carcinogenic in small doses”. According to the experts, the e-cigarette itself cannot be equated with a healthy way to quit smoking. Martina-Pötschke Langer from the German Cancer Research Center therefore advises against electronic cigarettes for health reasons. (lb)

Image: Gisela Peter / pixelio.de

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