Israel: Pharmacies that Sell E-cigs or Tobacco Will Lose Their Licenses

Starting August 1, Health Ministry officers will visit pharmacies and enforce the regulations against electronic cigarettes.

Pharmacies that Sell E-cigs or Tobacco Will Lose Their Licenses

Selling tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in pharmacies is now illegal, and violators will lose their licenses to operate, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Dr. Eyal Schwartzberg, the head of the Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical branch sent a directive to all private and health fund pharmacies that they must immediately stop such sales.

Starting August 1, the Health Ministry’s district health officers will visit pharmacies and enforce the regulation, taking action against violators. The  very-profitable sales of e-cigs in pharmacies — including the large chain stores — is widespread, while marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products in such establishments is less common.

Schwartzberg noted that e-cigs are not medical devices. “There are no data or proof that they are effective [in helping users to stop or reduce smoking” or even that they are safe. As a result, they must not be sold in pharmacies,” wrote Schwartzberg.

The ministry, which is preparing a bill for the Knesset to bar e-cigs, is thus following in the footsteps of the US Food and Drug Administration — which stated recently that for the first time, it would would extend its regulatory authority to e-cigs. The FDA will prohibit their sale to minors and supervise all e-cig products.

As increasingly stringent legislation has limited smoking in public places in Israel and abroad, causing tobacco companies to be worried about their income and addicted users to worry about when and where they can get their fix, companies have increasingly developed and put on the market electronic cigarettes that give users the feeling of smoking without polluting their environment.

E-cigs, which contain concentrates of toxic nicotine or other compounds that can be carcinogenic when heated, are delivery systems without producing smoke. Consisting of a battery, a device that heats the chemical and a container to store it, an electronic cigarette vaporizes the powder or liquid into synthetic smoke.

When the chemical is nicotine, it is a psychoactive stimulant, a poison and addictive, and it releases adrenaline and dopamine. It is also used as an agricultural insecticide. As the nicotine in e-cigs is much more concentrated, it is more poisonous than nicotine in cigarettes. Smoking e-cig chemicals also lasts longer than smoking a cigarette.

Leaks from cartridges have also been reported, posing a serious toxic risk from exposure in the air and by being swallowed, including by children, the ministry continued. In 2012, a baby died after swallowing the content of an e-cig cartridge. Enditem