Electronic cigarettes soon to be sold and reimbursed in pharmacies: what do the main stakeholders think?

Home Electronic cigarettes soon to be sold and reimbursed in pharmacies: what do the main stakeholders think?
Written by Doug Hampton

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Health Minister François Braun wants to authorize and reimburse the sale of electronic cigarettes in pharmacies for public health reasons. For the moment, no study proves the level of dangerousness and the effectiveness of weaning from vaping.

In order to fight against smoking, François Braun, the Minister of Health, has put forward the idea of ​​authorizing pharmacists to provide certain nicotine substitutes in the form of electronic cigarettes. According to him, the latter “make it possible to gradually reduce the consumption of nicotine and to stop”. He believes that pharmacists “faced with smokers who want to quit” must be able to guide them.

Currently, the government is considering a possible reimbursement of this substitute as part of the next anti-tobacco plan 2023-2028. It is still necessary that the electronic cigarette be recognized as an effective means of smoking cessation… La Dépêche asked the people concerned – smokers, sellers, pharmacists and doctors – what they thought of it.

“It’s replacing one addiction with another”

For addictologist Bernard Antoine, “it’s an admission of government failure and a bad idea”. For the specialist, “when people find a product in a pharmacy, they think it is not harmful”. However, if vaping is less dangerous than smoking a cigarette, there is no proof to certify that this product is not dangerous for health. “Its ability to wean smokers has not been researched either,” says Bernard Nicolas.

The addictologist thus recalls that nicotine, the main cause of addiction to cigarettes, is also present in e-liquids: “It amounts to replacing one addiction with another” according to him. He believes that the substitute is not enough to quit smoking: “You need psychological support with therapies”. Each year, it receives around 150 people who wish to quit vaping.

“I stopped the moment I vaped”

The manager of the VapoTime store in Toulouse firmly believes in electronic cigarette withdrawal. In his shop, the natural aromas he sells accompany former smokers in their detoxification. “At the beginning, we are looking for an equivalent between the nicotine dose of liquids and the number of cigarettes smoked each day by the customer. Each quarter, we will lower the level of nicotine by one notch, then leave the e-cigarette ” exposes the seller.

One of his customers assures him: “I smoked a pack and a half a day, I stopped as soon as I started vaping. But the taste can make you addicted, I saw it with friends in Me.”

If François Braun’s proposal sees the light of day, the VapoTime trader is sure, with the reimbursement of these devices by Health Insurance, the e-cigarette shops will close shop. But the seller “does not see pharmacists explaining the technical part of the devices or advising on aromas”. “I don’t think they will have the time, nor enough manpower, to take care of all the customers who will come in,” he said.

“We must study the balance between benefits and risks”

Bryan Guilot, pharmacist in Toulouse, is not against the transformation of this recreational object into a medical device: “If it is recognized as therapeutic, I will not mind selling it, we already have patches or gums which are also nicotine-based”, he explains. Above all, he wants to ensure the effectiveness of this possible measure: “We must study the risk-benefit balance, find the therapeutic place of the substitute in the medical service, supervise the sale and regulate the product”.

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