Sensible? First supplement for smokers hits UK market

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Common Sense? "We are certainly not trying to encourage people to continue smoking."
Common Sense? "We are certainly not trying to encourage people to continue smoking."

Related tags Dietary supplement

As the first supplement targeting smokers goes on sale in the UK, its maker is confident that sound scientific formulation will ensure the potentially controversial multivitamin complex stands up to scrutiny.

Last week ‘sense for nicotine lovers’ hit pharmacy shelves in the UK capital. Targeted at smokers who are “thinking about quitting and need some support”, ​or who “may quit in the future but currently just want to be as healthy as possible”​, the supplement has been “designed​ to assist with the damage caused by smoking by replenishing lost vitamins, minerals and nutrients”.

A complex of vitamins and minerals, along with amino acids, antioxidants and turmeric, the supplement has been formulated to capitalise on EU-approved claims relating to the immune system, heart function, the nervous system, reduction of tiredness and fatigue and balancing the body’s energy levels.

Raising ethical questions

Sense Products’ founder and CEO, Jonathan Ebsworth, told NutraIngredients he was expecting the supplement to come under fire from some quarters, but defended the product. “Given that smoking is both legal and addictive, why shouldn’t there be something out there to help smokers?”

He refuted the suggestion that smokers may think they can simply ‘pop a pill’ to undo the damage done by cigarettes.

“I think people know that cigarettes are inherently bad for you and no matter what you take it won’t truly compensate for the potential consequences. We are certainly not trying to encourage people to continue smoking. The supplement is something to assist the body’s responses to smoking,” ​he said.

‘Sense for nicotine lovers’ carries a raft of claims, including:

  • ‘supports the immune system thanks to vitamins B6, B12, vitamin C, D, biotin, copper, iron, selenium and zinc’
  • ‘assists normal function of the heart thanks to vitamin B1’
  • ‘assists the nervous system thanks to vitamins B1, B6, B12, vitamin C, biotin, niacin, magnesium and copper’
  • ‘helps against oxidative stress thanks to vitamin B2, vitamin C & biotin, copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc’.

All of these are authorised in the European Union under the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR). Ebsworth said the product contained at least the requisite amount of each nutrient to satisfy claim requirements. 

“We researched all of these claims and ingredients and have identified on-pack which ingredients support which claims. We have been very thorough and tried to cover all bases."

Getting the regulators on-side

He said the product had also been reviewed by the Medicines Borderline section of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), to make sure that legally it didn’t need to be marketed as a medicine.

“The MHRA was only interested in whether we were claiming it as a cessation product, which we are not - just as containing ingredients that can assist the nervous system,” ​said Ebsworth.

“We also tried to show it to Local Trading Standards but they weren’t interested in reviewing it.”

‘sense for nicotine lovers’ is the second in the UK-manufactured range of lifestyle food supplements, which also includes ‘sense for a night out’ - a supplement for people go out drinking alcohol. The company also has three further products to its portfolio: ‘sense for city living’, ‘sense for cholesterol’ and ‘sense for weight warriors’.

Sense Products’ founder and CEO Jonathon Ebworth

The supplements are the brainchild of Ebsworth, a former city lawyer, who described them as “the products I would like to have had at that time in my life”​.

The CEO confirmed that export markets are a possibility. “It has the potential to go into various other countries - France and Spain would be the two obvious ones, also the Middle East."

They are currently only on sale for £29.99 (€40) for 90 capsules and £9.99 (€10.50) for a 15.capsule blister pack.

1 comment

Nicotine Lovers

Posted by bob,

The CEO's comments taken in isolation appear responsible yet completely lack sincerity when you see the brand name they selected- Sense for Nicotine Lovers. What next Sense, a pill for Alcohol lovers, Sense a pill for Sugar Lovers? Exactly the same logic. Their branding flippantly says, hey, that's cool, you like to smoke and here's a way to make you feel better about that decision. I'm not opposed to the concept, just the delivery.

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