A little while ago the European Parliament voted not to regulate e cigarettes as medical devices, opting instead to simply limit them to over 18s.

This is a good thing, because it means that these devices, which are a much safer way of consuming nicotine than tobacco, need to be easily available to consumers (like cigarettes already are), and not restricted to pharmacies, banned from on line sales, etc.

The bad news is that the European Commission seems to be getting ready to regulate e cigarettes to death despite what the European Parliament says.

There are a lot of regulations in the leaked EC document ( ) which will ban the liquid used to fill existing devices, restrict the size of cartridges and limit them to single use, restrict the concentration of nicotine deliverable by the device, limit the flavours available, ban on line sales, ban all advertising including on the internet, require nicotine levels to be uniform and not user controlled as they are now, and on and on.

In combination these regulations amount to a ban on every e cig/vaping device currently on the market, along with the juice to put in any existing e cigs and make it next to impossible for any effective devices to be developed and marketed in the EU in the future.

This will benefit only the tobacco companies and the pharmaceutical companies who make the less effective NRT devices. Smokers will not be allowed to choose the safer option of vaping. Many will go back to cigarettes and many of those will die because of this regulation.

I am not a smoker, nor do I use nicotine products of any kind, but I am deeply troubled by this development. All of this is going ahead despite the fact that the European Parliament voted NOT to regulate these devices as medicines. The European Commission is going to kill e cigs even though the MEPs we elected to represent us decided not to.

If the European Parliament can decide to restrict a product to over 18s and impose no further regulation, but the European Commission can then go ahead and design regulations so draconian that they amount to a ban on all such products, I have to wonder what the purpose of the European Parliament is at all.

If the decisions of our elected representatives can effectively be ignored, then democracy is a sham. Even if you care nothing for smokers or vapers, surely you care about that.

I have already sent an email expressing my concern to all of the Irish MEPs. Perhaps you could do the same, or maybe contact your TD, write to a newspaper, anything to make some noise about this.

This may not affect you, but if they can simply ignore the people you elect, then what happens when someone decides something you enjoy is a vice to be regulated out of existence?

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Landmark ruling on e-cigarettes by the european parliament

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On October 8th in Strasbourg, France, the European Parliament passed a draft law that the World Health Organization and EU health officials described as a landmark ruling. Among stricter regulations towards tobacco products and advertising, it was the first time an elected government institution made sweeping regulations on e cigarettes.

E cigarettes should be regulated, but not be subject to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventive properties. Those for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, should carry health warnings and should not be sold to anyone under 18 years old. Manufacturers and importers would also have to supply the competent authorities with a list of all the ingredients that they contain. Finally, e cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products. (EP News)

Like any legislative vote, its passing created a range of opinions by MEPs on the success and failure of such a law. On one hand, approval of the new measures was particularly welcomed by European health commissioner Tonio Borg I welcome the positive vote in today s European Parliament EU citizens expect all of us to act on tobacco and to adopt in the near future a new legislation which will put the EU on the frontline on a global stage.

MEP Chris Davies agreed with Borg s view of the draft law E cigs can be a game changer. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked. They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes.

On the other hand, not every country within the EU sees the revision of the Tobacco Products proposal as a step forward. Anti smoking lawmakers hoped to diminish the availability of e cigarettes by repositioning them as a medicinal device. Co chair of the public health committee and Swedish MEP, Carl Schlyter, is one of those who view the amendment differently. This is a shameful day for the European Parliament as a centre right majority has done the bidding of the tobacco industry and voted for weaker rules, which are totally at odds with citizens interests and public health.

It s always interesting to see the difference in opinion among the array of parties voting on a draft law such as this. No different to any other debate on legislation there are those with very contrasting points of view. However, one thing that everyone can agree on is that whether this draft law was or will be a success or failure, the ultimate ruling by the European Parliament sends a strong message to the FDA who was originally scheduled to make a decision on e cigarette regulation by the end of October. This will most likely be delayed due to the U.S. government shutdown.

The amendment to the EU Tobacco Products proposal does not go into full effect until next year when another vote by MEPs may ratify the law for good.

For related coverage, check out

  • The proposed text for Amendment 170
  • BBC News
  • Reuters
  • New York Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Malta Today
  • Globe and Mail
  • CTV News
  • Toronto Star
  • National Post
  • The Parliament