Those who follow the electronic cigarette market will be well aware of the European Parliament ruling yesterday which rejected an earlier EU committee recommendation that electronic cigarettes should be treated as “medical devices”. This is a situation which has been ongoing for some time although many traditional tobacco smokers and electronic cigarette enthusiasts are scratching their heads and asking the question, why is the European Parliament only now taking an interest in electronic cigarettes?

If we take a look back at the electronic cigarette market, you might be surprised to learn that the first electronic cigarette was manufactured back in 1963. While it took a full 40 years before we saw the creation of the electronic cigarette of today, much of the mass media covering the industry gives the impression that electronic cigarettes are a new phenomenon.

Does money talk?

When the electronic cigarette industry was miniscule and seen as something of a niche player, very few regulators and governments around the world showed any interest. Over the last five years we have seen a phenomenal increase in the number of electronic cigarette users around the world and indeed the market in the US alone is expected to hit $1 billion in 2013 and very quickly climb towards $2 billion per annum. So, is money behind the ongoing push towards regulation?

There is no doubt that traditional tobacco cigarettes earn an enormous amount of tax for governments around the world which is vital to the everyday running of government and public services. So far the electronic cigarette industry is only exposed to the traditional VAT tax charge with no additional charges such as those associated with tobacco cigarettes. Whether this is true or not, some experts believe that electronic cigarettes could at least compare favourably with the number of tobacco smokers in the medium to long term with some believing they will eventually outsell tobacco cigarettes. Whether this is the case or not, the electronic cigarette industry is showing phenomenal growth at the moment.

Is this down to freedom of choice?

Despite the fact that many governments and health authorities around the world continue to criticise and restrict the sale of tobacco cigarettes, they do not turn down the enormous tax income which they create. Despite the fact that many governments and the health authorities around the world publish reports and trial data which they say confirm health issues often associated with tobacco cigarettes, they have never contemplated banning them. The old argument that banning tobacco cigarettes would push them “underground” does not wash with many smokers who continue to pay relatively high taxes for their habit.

The recent push to have electronic cigarettes classified as “medical devices” across Europe seemed if you read the mass media, to be a done deal when an EU committee recommended this to the European Parliament. However, this prompted an array of electric cigarette enthusiasts, companies and even health associations around Europe to step forward in support of so called “ecigs”. This support for the industry has at least temporarily halted the growing momentum for further regulation and classification changes, although in the eyes of many people this is a freedom of choice scenario and the fight goes on.


Those who believe that the electronic cigarette industry is now over the worst, has beaten off the regulators and cleared the way for further growth in the short to medium term may well be a little premature in their rejoicing. The fight goes on, with the little known facts that no responsible electronic cigarette manufacturer is against further testing, medical trials and perhaps more importantly, ensuring that their products do not fall into the hands of minors.

The industry is often portrayed as ruthless, attempting to grab the “youth market” and rolling out products which are not manufactured to the highest standards. If those fighting against the electronic cigarette market were to take a step back, scrape away the media frenzy and look at the facts and figures, they may well see the industry in a very different light.

Poor smokers in new york spend quarter of income on cigarettes – european lung foundation[uk]

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The study, conducted on behalf of the New York state s health department, also found that although the prevalence of smoking had declined by 20% among all income groups, there was no statistically significant decline in smoking among poorer smokers in the state from 2003 to 2010.

Using data from the New York Adult Tobacco Survey, researchers calculated that smokers in New York earning less than $30,000 a year spent an average of 23.6% of their earnings on cigarettes, compared with about 14.2% nationally.

The state’s wealthier smokers those earning over $60,000 spent an average of 2.2% of their income on the habit, about the same as the national figure.

The researchers concluded that the state should spend more of the resulting revenue on programs that help low income smokers quit the habit, although both the researchers and the health department say this would be a challenge.

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