Electronic cigarettes no longer face being taken off the shelves by the EU after ECR MEPs were successful today in amending EU legislation on tobacco labelling.

Conservative MEP Martin Callanan led the amendment to defeat proposals that would have classified e cigs as medicinal products, meaning they would have been put through an exceptionally rigorous and costly authorisation procedure far more laborious than for much more harmful traditional tobacco products.

MEPs today voted on the Tobacco Products Directive, which is aimed at discouraging young people from taking up smoking. Among the other proposals adopted are a ban on lipstick packs, and on flavourings such as menthol. Packs will also have to carry large health warnings to discourage tobacco use.

Mr Callanan is one of the parliament s shadow lead members on the proposed directive, for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. The ECR Group chairman led opposition to the ban on e cigs after being inundated by personal pleas from so called vapers who say e cigarettes have enabled them to move off of cigarettes and on to the products that produce no tar, carbon monoxide or smoke.

Mr Callanan tabled the amendment to the parliament calling for electronic cigarettes to be treated in a manner similar to ordinary tobacco.

He said

“Forcing e cigs off the shelves would have been totally crazy. These are products that have helped countless people stop smoking more harmful cigarettes and yet some MEPs wanted to make them harder to manufacture than ordinary tobacco.

“I have received countless emails and calls from vapers which were individual personal pleas, not a standard letter copied and pasted from an NGO website as we MEPs often see.

“Many electronic cigarettes are produced by small businesses who would simply not have been able to afford the strict authorisation demands the EU would place on them. We could not stand by and allow MEPs to put companies out of business and people out of work.

“It makes sense to find ways of making tobacco less attractive to younger people. Although some of the measures seemed on the zealous end of the scale we are willing to accept them, but we could not have supported a measure that would cost jobs and push people off of electronic cigarettes and back onto the real thing.

“This is a victory for common sense.”

Eu law threatens to ban e-cigarettes

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Companies which sell e cigarettes are deeply upset about the proposed update to the European tobacco products directive, claiming their products are recreational and should continue to be classed as such.

“We are not selling a medicinal product, we don&#39 t present e cigarettes as having health benefits and they are not functionally a medicine. They are designed as an alternative to cigarettes “, said Charles Hamshaw Thomas, director of legal and corporate affairs at E Lites.

Forcing companies to either reclassify their products as medicinal or lose the right to sell them commercially would seriously harm their ability to compete across Europe.

“Limitations on the wider availability of e cigarettes will give cigarette companies an unfair advantage and perversely protect their existing markets,” Hamshaw Thomas said.

The new rule is one of several proposed updates to the European tobacco products directive which, according to the EU, seeks to make smoking in all forms less attractive to young people in order to discourage tobacco initiation and improve public health in member states.