“The response to our campaign highlights how strongly people feel about these illiberal and potentially irresponsible measures,” Simon Clark, director of Forest, said.

“There is no evidence the directive will reduce smoking rates among children and every chance it will encourage illicit trade. Meanwhile law abiding adults will be prohibited from buying products they have purchased and enjoyed for many years.”

Proposals by the public health committee being put to the European parliament today attempted to classify electronic cigarettes as medicinal products, which would have imposed a much more rigorous and costly authorisation procedure on the items.

The move, which was defeated, would have seen the product removed from the shelves at least temporarily in the UK, as authorities have made it clear no existing product would satisfy the proposed standards.

That prospect sent a chill up the spine of many users, who rely on the vapour product to stay off real cigarettes

“Thousands of e cigarette users have pleaded with the European parliament not to take these products off the shelves,” said Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, who tabled an amendment to the vote that would only require e cigarettes to go through the same authorisation process as traditional tobacco products.

“The products have helped people to move away from traditional tobacco, so they should at least be treated in the same manner as tobacco products.

“This is a victory for common sense.”

European union passes tighter eu laws on electronic cigarettes

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Despite widespread criticism and opposition, the European Union has this week passed tighter regulations on electronic cigarettes.

Opponents had warned the EU that the proposed electronic cigarette regulations in the updated Tobacco Products Directive would be counter effective, and have the opposite effect to the group s objective of reducing the number of smokers in member states.

Lobbying and remonstrations by sympathetic MEPs, vaping groups and even the scientists whose work was cited by the EU as evidence, fell on deaf ears when the Parliament passed 14 pages of new regulations.

The new rules will come into effect by 2016 if not overturned, and will place a number of different restrictions on vaping and vapers. E liquid bottles that exceed 10ml in volume are to be banned, even though this restriction will increase production and packaging costs and will causing damage to the environment. Additionally, e liquids with nicotine concentration levels higher than 20mg/ml will need a medical licence.

Refillable electronic cigarettes could be under threat if three member states choose to impose a ban of the same device. Furthermore, manufacturers will be forced to wait six months before putting new products on the market. Both of these measures could prove to be incredibly damaging to electronic cigarette innovation and development.

Electronic cigarette publicity will also face a ban which is a major obstacle for an industry that has significantly increased its marketing activity in the past 18 months. it will be under the same restrictions as tobacco advertising.

The French electronic cigarette group Association Independante Des Utilisateurs de Cigarette Electronique have roundly criticised the move and already stated their intent to challenge the ruling at the first legal, valid opportunity.

The group has described the decision as not only illegal, but draconian and contrary to the interests of public health. It will seriously slow down and in many cases stop the development of new products very different from conventional cigarettes. The total ban on advertising will serve only the interests of the tobacco industry whose customers will be deprived of the opportunity of discovering a far less harmful alternative. The regulation imposes onerous restrictions unsupported by any serious research and driven only by the demand of powerful pharmaceutical and tobacco lobbies to protect their industries from their most formidable competitor ever.