Britain unveils ban on e-cigarettes for under-18s

LONDON (Reuters) Britain said on Sunday it would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to children aged under 18, citing possible adverse health effects and outlining a need for further medical research.

E cigarettes, which are puffed like a regular cigarette but deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquid rather than burning tobacco, have grown in popularity and some analysts predict the market could outpace conventional cigarettes within a decade.

«We do not yet know the harm that e cigarettes can cause to adults let alone to children, but we do know they are not risk free,» England’s Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies said in a statement.

She added that e cigarettes can produce toxic chemicals and that variations in the strength of the nicotine solutions between different products meant they could end up being «extremely damaging» to young people’s health.

The global market for e cigarettes was estimated at more than $2 billion last year by market consultant Euromonitor.

Under 18s are already banned from buying conventional cigarettes in Britain. Sunday’s announcement included plans to make it illegal for adults to buy regular cigarettes for consumption by under 18s.

The changes will be written into a bill already on its way through parliament and are expected to have cross party support, although the opposition Labour party criticized the government for not acting more quickly.

The battery powered metal tubes of e cigarettes are seen as less harmful than regular cigarettes and a useful way to wean smokers off their habits. Critics, however say they can act as a gateway to nicotine addiction and that more research is needed on the health implications.

Regulators in Europe and the United States have been debating policy towards the industry. The European Union reached an agreement in December to allow e cigarettes to be sold as consumer products rather than more tightly regulated medical devices.

(Reporting by William James Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Walgreen to ‘ to evaluate’ selling cigarettes — chicago tribune

Retail pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreen are seeking to play a larger role in the U.S. health system by becoming more comprehensive health care providers with in store clinics, vaccination administration and other services.

They re collectively trying to capture a surge of newly insured Americans who are gaining coverage through the health care overhaul law, which is expected to expand insurance to 11 million to 13 million by the end of 2014.

The CVS initiative, the first major pharmacy to undertake such a ban, puts the bullseye on the back of Walgreen, the nation s largest pharmacy chain that has faced withering attacks from health and advocacy groups for years surrounding its policy of selling tobacco products.

Despite its more recent transformation into a more health care focused company, Walgreen has remained steadfast in its tobacco policy, arguing last year that it must continue to sell those products to stay competitive with other drug store chains, convenience stores and grocery stores.

Michael Polzin, a Walgreen spokesman, said Wednesday the company has been evaluating its tobacco line for «some time,» and said it «will continue to evaluate the choice of products our customers want, while also helping to educate them and providing smoking cessation products and alternatives that help reduce the demand for tobacco products.»

Walgreen on Wednesday also announced a partnership with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare to launch a free, Internet based smoking cessation program called Sponsorship to Quit.

The program will provide smokers with customized tools to track their progress in quitting smoking.

While Walgreen does not break out tobacco sales, the company last year cited the introduction of cigarette sales in dollar stores as a key contributor to a decline in its store traffic for its third quarter.

The $2 billion in annual sales CVS said it is giving up accounted for about 1.6 percent of the company s total revenue in 2012, the last year for which full year statistics are available.

The move drew praise from President Barack Obama, a former smoker, who said CVS «sets a powerful example that will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.»

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CVS data by YCharts


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