'˜Safe' cigs and alcohol on the way - thanks to Brexit

Hangover free booze and safer alternatives to cigarettes could be a legacy of post Brexit Britain, suggests new research.

Friday, 23rd September 2016, 4:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:30 pm

The UK has the chance to be a leader in ‘vice’ related risk reduction and save thousands of lives every year - if it allows innovation to flourish, according to the study.

Products which could have seismic effects on public health are being kept off the shelves by ‘morality police’ and self defeating regulations, says a think tank.

Alcohol is responsible for 10 per cent of deaths and disease in the UK and Alcosynth, a synthetic version which is 100 times safer and hangover free faces harsh regulation despite being a major benefit.

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Meanwhile, e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than the real thing but cannot market themselves as such.

The new paper from the Adam Smith Institute says heavy-handed EU and UK government laws have held back the development of safer alternatives to drinking and smoking.

Public health officials are pursuing abstinence campaigns to the detriment of risk reduction products that could save thousands more lives every year, it says.

Alcosynth, for instance, gives users the sensation of being tipsy without the hangover or long term health hazards.

More than 60 medical conditions are associated with drinking, so these risk reduction products should be taken seriously as public health goods, the paper argues.

Despite slashing smoker numbers, e-cigarettes been hampered by regulation. Although they are 95 per cent safer than combustible cigarettes according to Public Health England, e-cig companies are unable to market their comparative health benefits to the public.

And the latest round of EU regulations will make the development of newer, better, and safer e-cigarettes for consumers much more difficult.

As the latest innovation of ‘heat not burn’ tobacco products is brought to market the report underlines the importance of fostering innovation and competition on safety.

Regulators are becoming increasingly restrictive rather than fostering innovative and satisfying alternatives to smoking and drinking.

The report says Theresa May’s government would be wise to utilise Brexit to throw out regulation like the the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive and save thousands of lives a year.

It could be replaced with a system of ‘permissionless innovation’ where a regulatory pathway for safer products to be developed and marketed is created, both by big players and by new entrants to the market.

Sam Bowman, executive director of the London based Adam Smith Institute, said: “It is innovation not regulation that got us e-cigarettes. They emerged and prospered in spite of regulation, proving to be the best way to get people to quit quickly that we know of.

“But despite this, misguided public health officials are trying to clamp down on them because of evidence-free and dangerous fears that they ‘normalise’ smoking.

“Other products like synthetic alcohol and reduced-risk tobacco products promise to repeat the success of e-cigs for new people, but only if we let them. It is crucial that the government does not stand in the way of hangover-free alcohol.

“Regulation must be flexible and encouraging of new products that are safer than the vices they’re competing with.

“Britain can be a world leader in safe alternatives to alcohol and cigarettes, but we need regulation that foster those things instead of stamping them out.”