The European Parliament’s environment and health committee voted today (10 July) to back the European Commission’s proposal for new tobacco restrictions, banning slim cigarettes and flavourings including menthol cigarettes and requiring graphic pictorial warnings covering 75% of cigarette packs.

Despite a demonstration in front of the Parliament today by advocates of smokless electronic cigarettes, the committee members voted to back to Commission’s proposal to classify these devices as medicinal products.

The Commission has proposed that e cigarettes containing 4 milligrammes or more of nicotine must be classed as medicinal products. Member states voted last month to make the rules on e cigarettes even tougher, lowering the threshold to 1mg. Despite a demonstration by e cigarette advocates outside the Parliament yesterday ahead of the vote, the committee voted to classify all e cigarettes as pharmaceuticals, regardless of the nicotine content.

The designation will not mean e cigarettes will need a prescription. But it will mean they have to go through a lengthy and costly approval process before marketing. It will result in many smaller and more innovative producers of e cigarettes going out of business, said Fraser Cropper, CEO of e cigarette company Totally Wicked. Medicines regulation creates a default prohibition and requirement for approval, leaving deadly tobacco cigarettes as the only easily marketed source of nicotine.

Policy toward the new technology widely varies across the EU. Some countries such as Denmark have banned them, while in others such as the UK they are freely available for sale with no restrictions.

Health campaigners cheered the committee vote outcome. But they expressed disappointment that an amendment to require plain packaging’ on cigarette packs banning the use of logos or trademarks was rejected. The Commission had been considering this but did not put it in its final proposal.

V2 electronic cigarettes blog tobacco products directive regulates ecigarettes in the eu cheap european made cigarettes

While we re in the US, patiently waiting for the FDA to release their pending regulations on ecigarettes, the EU is moving full speed ahead. On February 26, 2014, the European Parliament formally ratified the revised Tobacco Products Directive, which governs the manufacture, presentation, advertisement and sale of tobacco products (now including e cigs) in the European Union.

It s been a long road for ecigarettes in the EU but, things are about to start shifting. Once the Council of Ministers adopts the revised directive, the new rules will come into effect this should happen by May 2014.

This is a victory, said Linda McAvan, the rapporteur who led negotiations and is a current member of the European Parliament, The original proposal was stricter, and I would have voted for that, but the new law is anyway a huge step forward in tobacco control, she added.

What does this mean for ecigarettes? We compiled a detailed list of the new rules that relate to e cigs

These rules only apply to products that contain nicotine
There will be a maximum nicotine concentration level for all e liquid products
There will be a maximum volume of e liquid within any container, including flavor cartridges, bottles and tanks
E liquid containers (including flavor cartridges, bottles and tanks) must be child and tamper proof, and they must be protected against leakage
E liquid manufacturers will be required to disclose all included ingredients and their concentrations, and comply with specific quality standards
Nicotine delivery must be consistent (each puff should deliver roughly the same amount of nicotine as the last)
Packaging must include health warnings and information about the addictiveness and toxicity of nicotine
Packaging must include a list of all ingredients in the e liquid, as well as information about the nicotine content
Advertising restrictions for tobacco products will also apply to ecigarettes
Ecigarettes will not be classified as medicines or marketed as tools for smoking cessation they will remain consumer tobacco products

Additionally, electronic cigarette manufacturers will have to report annual sales and customer data to EU Member States allowing policymakers to monitor new developments in the industry. A press release from the European Commission stated, The information collected will provide a good overview of what additional legislative action, if any, is required for e cigarettes , and the Commission will revisit the issue if necessary. Future revisions aren t out of the question.

According to the New York Times Editorial Board,

These rules strike a good balance. Smokers who want to switch to electronic cigarettes will still be able to do so with the knowledge that the devices are not contaminated and do not contain excessive, harmful doses of nicotine. At the same time, the marketing restrictions should make it less likely that they will be used by children.

We couldn t have said it better. At V2 Cigs , we take pride in our high standards for quality control and responsible manufacturing. Our published lists of e liquid ingredients are available for download on our website. We are members of the We Card program and actively enforce age requirements, both online and in all retail locations. To put it simply, we look forward to whatever regulatory decisions the FDA hands down hopeful that our rigorous self regulation will one day be the rule, not the exception.

Want the rest of the story? Click here to read about the October negotiations and here to learn about the follow up in December.

You can also read a list of mythbusters about the new electronic cigarette legislation (created by the European Commission)

You know we ll keep you updated of any new happenings! What do you think of the EU s decision to regulate ecigarettes?