Conservative MEPs will seek to stop e-cigs overregulation

25-Feb-2014 @ 18:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs will seek to stop e-cigs overregulation

A last ditch effort will be made by Conservative MEPs tomorrow to prevent the EU from over-regulating electronic cigarettes.

The European Parliament will vote on the Tobacco Products Directive, which aims to discourage younger people from smoking, for example by introducing larger health warnings on packs and ban flavourings (although Menthol cigarettes will have a reprieve until 2020).

However, some MEPs and national governments had also sought to heavily regulate electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), which deliver nicotine, but without the side effects of tobacco such as tar, smoke and carbon monoxide. Initially the parliament public health committee voted to require e-cigs to go through the same costly and time-consuming authorisation process as medicinal products. However, when the directive was first put to the vote in the European Parliament last October, Conservative MEPs were successful in removing such provisions.

Following the parliament's vote, lead MEPs met with national governments to seek an agreement on the legislation. During the talks, a new Article was sneaked in to the directive by the European Commission that would still heavily over-regulate e-cigs, against the parliament’s will.

The agreement reached in the early hours of the morning last December would enable an EU-wide ban on ‘refillables’ (which comprise a large component of the e-cigs market), if only three EU countries ban them. It would also restrict all but the weaker e-cigarettes (20 mg/ml nicotine), which would risk cigarette users going back to cigarettes in order to achieve the same nicotine ‘hit’.

Martin Callanan, Conservative MEP and lead member for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group on the directive, will tomorrow seek to send the directive back to the committee so that the implications of the new legislation can be fully debated, and the views of e-cigs users heard.

He said:

“I have received thousands of emails from e-cigs users arguing that they have moved off of cigarettes and on to these less harmful alternatives.

“The parliament should take some time to consider the impact that this legislation has on e-cigarettes. E-cigs are not perfect and we are not against appropriate legislation, but we fear the heavy-handed approach being taken could ironically send more people on to more harmful cigarettes.

“We must not make legislation about smoke filled rooms in a smoke filled room. The parliament made it quite clear that e-cigarettes need to be regulated, but not over-regulated. Yet a small group of MEPs and the commission snuck this over-regulation into the directive without consulting users or the wider parliament.

“We can support the aims of this directive but we will not support law on e-cigs that is drafted on the back of a fag packet. We need to reconsider the long-term consequences of how we vote tomorrow.”

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