If you haven’t yet seen the information on the EU proposal to ban/regulate electronic cigarettes within the EU then I urge you to read the following post, this could effect everyone that currently uses electronic cigarettes. http://www.clivebates.com/?p=739
We recently wrote to our local MEP as suggested and received the following replies:
Follow up From Chris Davies Liberal Democrat MEP – 8th April
Proposed restrictions on the sale and content of e-cigarettes
You have written to express concern about the European Commission’s proposals for revising the EU Directive on the Sale of Tobacco and Related Products that would restrict the availability and nicotine content of e-cigarettes. The draft legislation is now being considered by the European Parliament’s environment and public health committee and the deadline for tabling amendments has just passed. I hear that some 1,300 have now gone for translation into the various EU languages.
Until a few months ago I had never heard of e-cigarettes. Since then I have had many letters and e-mails from users, have met with manufacturers, and have read widely on the subject. I am convinced that they can play a very effective role in helping confirmed smokers reduce or eliminate their dependence upon tobacco. Although the long term effects of using e-cigarettes has yet to be established it seems very likely to me that their use, rather than the continued smoking of cigarettes, is likely to be much less harmful to health and will prolong lives.
I am opposed to the introduction of restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes by adults.
The European Commission has emphasised that it does not wish to ban the products but only to require them to be classified as medicines. However, this route involves significant costs and potential restrictions on their development and sale. It is true that e-cigarettes can be used as a medicinal nicotine replacement therapy but they can also be considered as a recreational drug like alcohol or tobacco cigarettes, albeit one which appears to be very much less harmful. It is the fact that they are said to be pleasurable to use that makes them so effective as a means of combatting addictive use of tobacco. I cannot see any value in allowing it to be easier for conventional cigarettes to be sold than e-cigarettes.
I am also opposed to the introduction of restrictions on the nicotine content of e-cigarettes. The user is the best person to judge what level of nicotine is appropriate to meet their needs, although clear information should be provided and the purity of the contents guaranteed.
I have tabled a series of amendments along these lines. I do believe that the Commission should review the properties of e-cigarettes and, if necessary, put forward separate proposals at a later date, and I do believe that the products should be labelled to point out that nicotine is addictive and may harm health, but this amounts to light-touch regulation not the heavy handed approach currently being pursued.
Let me refer to the politics and what you may be able to do to influence the final shape of the law.
E-cigarettes are new products that enable the inhalation into the lungs of a vapour that includes a known addictive substance and trace elements of other chemicals. It is perhaps not surprising that the first reaction of many people is to say that their use should be strictly controlled. What is too often missing from the debate is that tobacco cigarettes kill 700,000 people a year in Europe and that by comparison the use of e-cigarettes is hugely preferable as an alternative.
As the issue becomes better understood I believe that many MEPs of different nationalities are starting to question the approach being advocated by the Commission. But time is short, and there are many minds to change before we vote. I hope that users of e-cigarettes in other countries are making their voices heard as effectively as they are here, but there is more work to be done in the UK too.
The UK is represented by 73 MEPs and anything you can do that will encourage e-cigarette users to contact their regional representatives about the issue will be useful. I know of only a few MEPs who have declared their opposition to restrictions on e-cigarettes so I shall avoid naming names, but without wishing to be party political my sense is that Labour MEPs are more in favour of such restrictions than those of other parties.
Two have particular influence:
The European Parliament’s rapporteur (lead negotiator) is Linda McAvan, who represents Yorkshire & the Humber and with whom I often work closely, although it seems that we may disagree on this issue.
The leader of the UK Labour delegation is Glenis Willmott MEP (East Midlands), and I understand that she has tabled a number of amendments calling for tight restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes.
In my opinion nothing is more persuasive in making people think afresh about this issue than the personal testimony of addicted smokers who have turned to the use of e-cigarettes. (Mass emails of identical letters are particularly ineffective in my experience; they become simply an annoyance).
It is particularly effective if the letters come from people who live in the region that the MEP represents.
You can find contact information on your local MEPs by visiting writetothem.com
If you feel passionate about the issue I encourage you to make personal representations and urge others to do so too.
Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West of England
First Reply From Brian Simpson MEP
Many thanks for writing to me about the important issue of the EU Tobacco
Products Directive, and how it will affect electronic cigarettes.
Because e-cigarettes are a relatively new product they are regulated
differently in each EU country. Some countries allow e-cigarettes to be
sold without any regulation at all. Others have banned the sale of
e-cigarettes. As the UK is part of the EU’s internal market it is important
that we harmonise the way we deal with this product, otherwise consumers
could be buying unregulated products which do not conform to basic safety
standards, either within their own country, or by easily purchasing it over
the internet from a neighbouring country.
The European Commission has proposed that all ‘nicotine containing products’
with more than 2mg per unit should not be classed as tobacco products.
Instead, under the Commission’s proposals, nearly all e-cigarettes will need
to get authorisation as a pharmaceutical product, in the same way as
nicotine patches, sprays and gums.
Of course there is a balance to strike. On one hand e-cigarettes have the
potential to be a helpful way to help somebody quit smoking entirely and
greatly improve their health. On the other hand e-cigarettes currently can
contain up to 48mg of nicotine – far more than a regular cigarette, making
them highly addictive. As nicotine is the drug that makes cigarettes
addictive, somebody that tries e-cigarettes could be much more likely to go
on to smoke regular cigarettes. Furthermore, there is no evidence that
e-cigarettes are safe, and it is concerning that they are being marketed as
a ‘healthy’ alternative to smoking.
Currently we do not have any conclusive evidence either that e-cigarettes
are helpful for giving up smoking, or that they encourage it.
While we do not have this scientific evidence to rely on I think it is
wise to have a cautious approach to e-cigarettes. If they are
effective in helping people to stop smoking, then it is appropriate that
they are regulated in the same way as other smoking cessation tools, such as
The Commission proposal is not final and there will be many months of
negotiations by the European Parliament, as well as health ministers from
the UK and other EU countries, before the legislation is agreed.
During this time Labour MEPs will be looking carefully at all of the
measures and trying to find the best way to ensure that we effectively
reduce smoking rates in the UK and across Europe.
Thanks again for writing to me on this important issue.
Brian Simpson MEP
The second reply from a representative of Nick Griffin:
Thank you for your email regarding the Government’s revised European Tobacco Directive and in particular Nicotine Containing Products (NCP).
Mr Griffin has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.
Nicotine replacement therapies such as the use of Electronic cigarettes have proven to be an effective method for many smokers in their quest to ‘kick the habit’, however research into the use of electronic cigarettes before they hit the market was minimal and has not been subject to rigorous testing.
A recent consultation undertaken by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which is supported by the British Medical Association, has highlighted the need for evidence on the levels of nicotine that have a significant pharmacological effect, and the need for further information on the impact of regulation on public health and business and are therefore conducting further scientific and market research with the aim of answering these important questions and a final decision on the regulation of NCP’s as medicinal products is to be made available later this year.
If, after the further research, nicotine containing products were to be regulated as medicinal, this approach could actually make such products more widely available, supported by clear information for users and appropriate advertising. If the evidence gathered supports a decision to licence nicotine products as medicines, NCPs would have a general sale legal status meaning they can be sold in general sale outlets such as supermarkets, therefore making them still readily available to the end user.
This guidance will support both a range of UK international agreements and the ‘EU Directive on tobacco products’.
Mr Griffin has a natural propensity, as you might expect, to vote against any attempts by Brussels to interfere in Britain’s business. British standards, having been developed and refined over many years, are usually of the highest level therefore it is Mr Griffin’s belief that these decisions should be made by the British Medical Association and other national centres of scientific expertise before being implemented via the British Government in Westminster.
Community Outreach Officer
For Nick Griffin, MEP
Third Reply from Office of Chris Davies MEP, North West Liberal Democrats
Thank you for your email to Chris Davies MEP regarding Electronic Cigarettes and the proposed Tobacco Products Directive. Chris is the UK team leader on the Environment and Public Health Committee so will be discussing this with colleagues regularly, although his Belgian colleague, Frederique Ries MEP, leads on the issue.
Chris is greatly in favour of harm reduction as a principle and it may be the case that e-cigarettes help to reduce the numbers of smokers where so many other methods have not had 100% success rates. He thinks it will be necessary to introduce regulations to ensure their safe content but he is opposed to banning them and is not convinced by the European Commission’s proposal to restrict their nicotine content.
Research into the long term effects of vaping is not extensive and so the committee will be commissioning some research from its policy department, and MEPs will wish to hear from “stakeholders” such as E-cigarette manufacturers and public health experts. First-hand experience from users of E-cigarettes is also welcome.
The Rapporteur (the MEP in charge of guiding the legislation through the Parliament) is Linda McAvan, a Labour MEP, who seems quite keen to crack down hard on health issues so Chris is consulting with her as to what amendments she may accept.
Chris’s impression is that a substantial number of MEPs appear to be prejudiced against E-cigarettes because they look like cigarettes, and are perhaps overlooking the benefits they may bring to those who are trying to give up smoking.
Your views on flavours would be welcome. Chris doesn’t want to encourage the use of flavours that mighty encourage people to use E-Cigarettes who are not already smokers, but is going to look at the evidence presented to him on whether this may happen.
He is likely to put down some amendments, although you should know that the process will take a number of months. You can keep up with the proposals and the Parliamentary procedure here.
I hope this email has been informative. Do get in touch if there is anything else you would like clarifying.
Kat Dadswell | Casework Assistant
Office of Chris Davies MEP
North West Liberal Democrats
87a Castle Street
United Kingdom SK3 9AR
Fourth Reply From Jacqueline Foster MEP on behalf of Martin Callanan MEP – 16th April 2013
Thank you for your email. I have received many emails from others in the North West who share your views on the proposal by the European Commission to amend current European law affecting electronic inhalers, commonly known as personal vaporizers or e-cigarettes.
The Commission proposes to limit the amount of nicotine in solutions sold for use in electronic cigarettes to four milligrams of nicotine per millilitre, unless the products have been classified as for medicinal use.
I believe this would render the solution too weak to be a viable source of nicotine for smokers or ex-smokers, or would require manufacturers to apply for a costly licence to manufacture medicinal products.
E-cigarettes offer concentrated nicotine to addicts without the 4000 toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke and removes the risk posed to non-smokers, not least children of smokers, by ‘second hand’ smoke. For many people, traditional nicotine replacement therapies offered by the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry have had very limited success in helping smokers quit permanently.
Thousands of British e-cigarette users are likely to return smoking if the directive is amended as foreseen and nicotine concentrations are limited to 4mg/ml.
The proposed changes to limit permitted concentrations of nicotine solution sold in the EU are counter-productive and will do more harm than good.
Although I am not a member of the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, I know my Conservative colleague Martin Callanan MEP will put forward these arguments and work to convince other MEPs of the foolishness of diluting nicotine solution to the point of uselessness.
Jacqueline Foster MEP
Conservative MEP for the North West of England Conservative Spokesman on Transport & Tourism in the European Parliament