Posted by Vranks on December 20, 2013 Under E Cigarette Legislation

After hard fought negotiations, the European Union has struck a deal on the new tobacco directive, choosing to regulate electronic cigarettes as consumer products, but leaving the door wide open for individual member countries to regulate them as medicines if they so desire.

Back in October, e cigarettes scored a major legislative win, after the EU Parliament decided to vote against proposesd medical regulations, but it was just the beginning of a war to keep these innovative products freely available to consumers, so they could truly provide an alternative to smoking. Their decision didn’t stop the EU Commission from still pushing for a ban on electronic cigarettes, as a leaked internal document clearly showed, a few weeks ago. On December 17th, the 28 Governments of the European Union and the EU Parliament finally reached an agreement for the new tobacco directive, one that clearly favors big tobacco companies and threatens the future of the e cigarette industry as we know it.

According to the new deal, electronic cigarettes with a nicotine content below 20mg/ml will be regulated as consumer products, rather than medicines. That sounds like good news, considering the 28 Governments had originally proposed a 3mg/ml threshold, but member countries will be free to individually regulate e cigarettes as medical products if they so desire. To make matters worse, the EU could enforce a general ban on refillable e cigarettes if at least three member countries choose to prohibit them on health grounds.

“This will lead to another ridiculous ban from the EU on the majority of e cigarettes which are better for the health of smokers and for British manufacturers of e cigarettes,” said Nigel Farage, an MEP and leader of a UK political party. “The EU should not be putting restrictions on a safer alternative to smoking.”

Another Member of the European Parliament, Rebecca Taylor, thinks the very possible ban on refillable e cigarettes could push vapers back to tobacco. “This the exact opposite of what the tobacco directive is supposed to achieve. The fight is now on to show that it would not be justifiable to ban refillable cartridges on health and safety grounds,” she said. Martin Callanan, leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, agrees “This is a perverse decision that risks sending more people back to real, more harmful, cigarettes. Refillable e cigarettes would almost certainly be banned, and only the weakest products will be generally available. As many smokers begin on stronger e cigs and gradually reduce their dosage, making stronger e cigs harder to come across will encourage smokers to stay on tobacco.”

You might be tempted to think the new tobacco directive scheduled to come into effect in 2016 threatens the entire e cigarette industry, but it’s really great news for the tobacco companies, who only sell weaker disposable models. Lorillard already controls over half the US e cigarette market with its Blu brand and is set to expand in Europe, after acquiring UK based SKYCIG. R.J. Reynolds has been testing its own VUSE electronic cigarette in the state of Colorado and is preparing to launch it on a national level, while Altria is preparing to do the same with its NuMark e cig.

The recent EU decision has already caused outrage within the vaping community. There is currently an online petition you can sign to convince European Union officials to reconsider their proposals.

Sources The Guardian, Financial Express

Europe’s law on e-cigarettes sets global benchmark – health – 27 february 2014 – new scientist

The great american smokeout: a good day to discuss e-cigarettes

Legislation governing the sale of electronic cigarettes was approved yesterday by the European Parliament, which voted in the draft rules by 500 to 63, with 60 abstentions.

The move could set a precedent for legislation in other parts of the world where e cigarettes are still unregulated, especially in the US where guidance from the Food and Drug Administration is expected soon.

The European legislation allows shops to continue selling e cigarettes as consumer products to Europe’s estimated 10 million e cigarette smokers, or “vapers”, rather than having them be regulated as medicines as proposed in an earlier draft of the law.

But the final draft, which now just needs to be approved by member states, does impose strict conditions on how e cigarettes can be formulated, advertised and sold.

From mid 2016, when the legislation comes into force, all advertising will be banned in the 28 European Union countries. E cigarette packaging will have to include modest written health warnings, that “nicotine is addictive and could be harmful”, though there is scant evidence so far of ill effects from the products.

The nicotine in e cigarettes will also be restricted to 20 milligrams per millilitre of propylene glycol, a strength that scientists say is too weak for the 30 per cent of vapers who prefer higher concentrations. In a letter of complaint last month to the regulators, scientists said that this might deter heavy smokers from switching to e cigarettes and pointed out that concentrations containing 50 milligrams would more closely match the typical intake from real cigarettes.

Many backers of e cigarettes say they present the best opportunity yet for helping heavy smokers quit or cut down. “The directive in its current form will cause more harm to health than it prevents,” says Clive Bates, former head of the anti smoking group ASH, and a leading campaigner for e cigarettes. “It will place unjustified restrictions on an industry that could present an important alternative to the 28 per cent of European adults who smoke tobacco,” he says.