The European Union has this week updated the Tobacco Products Directive to include a number of controversial electronic cigarette measures. Despite being a part of a directive designed to lower the number of smokers throughout Europe, critics have denounced the regulations, stating that they may force vapers to turn back to traditional cigarettes.
One of the biggest proponents to the new electronic cigarette restrictions was the North East’s MEP Martin Callanan, who lobbied extensively for more measured, fairer regulations. Unfortunately for e cigarettes, Mr Callanan could not persuade his other MEPs to follow suit as they voted in 14 pages of electronic cigarette red tape.
The new restrictions could see a ban on re-fillable devices, which are a significant part of the e cig market, and if three member states decide that a certain e cigarette or tank is a risk to public health; they can ask the commission to ban them. Furthermore, restrictions are to be placed on e-liquids that have a nicotine content stronger than 20mg/ml. Any electronic cigarette with a nicotine content higher than this will need medical licencing. These rulings are due to come into effect by 2016.
Mr Callanan is understandably disappointed with the result of the vote and the manner in which it was reached. The European Commission and a number of MEPs have been accused of adding new articles to the directive during out-of-hours, close-door negotiations.
“E-cigs are not healthy, but they are surely far better for you than smoking tobacco. We have fought for sensible regulation on e-cigs that recognises the role they have played in taking many thousands of people off of smoking.
“The parliament voted for e-cigs to be lightly regulated until we know what regulation might be required. Yet MEPs and commission officials sneaked a whole raft of red tape into back-room negotiations without discussing them with e-cigs users or other MEPs. We have drafted huge parts of this law on the back of a fag packet with decisions about smoke filled rooms ironically being made in smoke filled rooms in Brussels.
“The majority of the Tobacco Products Directive is on the zealous end of the scale but we could have accepted it. However, what we could not accept is the draconian restrictions on e-cigs that were adopted. I believe we have completely failed to deliver the aim of discouraging smoking. By making it harder for smokers to get hold of e-cigs of the strength they require, we just increase the chance of them resuming smoking tobacco.”
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