Friday, 21 June 2013

Legal Affairs Committee vote on tobacco: good news for e-cigarettes, bad news for tobacco control

The European Parliament Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee voted today on the opinion of Committee chair Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, Germany) on the tobacco directive. JURI is one of several opinion giving committees which feed into the report of the lead committee -  Environment, Public Health & Food Safety (ENVI) .

In a nutshell, the vote went well in relation to the regulation of e-cigarettes, but badly for tobacco control measures designed to curb tobacco use. Mr Lehne agreed with my amendments on e-cigarettes ( with the exception of the one on marketing restrictions, and they were duly adopted.

However, before anyone cracks open the champagne, please remember that this is only an opinion and the crucial report will be the ENVI committee one (vote scheduled for 11 July), which is what will go to plenary (the whole parliament).

In addition, Mr Lehne's report did not go through with a huge majority as a number of Socialist, Liberal and Green MEPs voted against it or abstained due to the amendments adopted in relation to tobacco control. I personally abstained as I could not vote in favour of an opinion that significantly weakened tobacco control measures compared to the original Commission proposal. Europe is no longer leading the fight against tobacco as countries like Brazil, Canada and Australia steam ahead and see further reductions in tobacco use.

I am unfortunately expecting a tough fight in ENVI to avoid the medicines route or a quasi medicines route for e-cigarettes. I will be working with the ALDE group shadow draftsperson Mrs Frédérique Ries and my North West LibDem colleague Chris Davies to try to come up with a compromise proposal (based on amendments already tabled) that will tighten up the regulation of e-cigarettes sufficiently without regulating them as medicines as to gain the support of those currently backing a pharmaceutical approach. Not easy : (

My red line on e-cigarettes remains that I cannot vote in favour of a regulatory framework that will result in e-cigs being less available than tobacco products. This is not in the interests of public health.

In the JURI committee, the position of the Liberal (ALDE), Socialist (S&D) and Green (Green/EFA) groups on key issues such as health warnings, packaging, characterising flavours and slim cigarettes was very different to the Centre Right (EPP) group. This led to many close votes on such amendments, but sadly virtually each time the votes were (just) lost in favour of a weak approach to tobacco control, which I'm sure will please the tobacco industry.

This is the first time since I became an MEP some 15 months ago that I feel very disappointed with the outcome of votes. Tobacco is a serious public health scourge that kills 700,000 Europeans every year and it demands a strong response.


  1. Thanks for your ongoing efforts Re e-cigarettes Rebecca. I'm not a great lover of Tobacco Control, that's something that you and I would always disagree on, however I, and many other e-cig users will always be grateful for your openmindedness and hard work, regardless of how it unfolds in the end.

  2. From the point of view of e-cigs vs tobacco, Rebecca, this is a great step in the right direction. What most folks don't realise is that e-cigs are a truly disruptive technology. As someone who smoked very heavily for many years (wasn't on less than 60 a day for over 30 years) I can emphatically say that e-cigs are much the nicer option - there's no way I'd voluntarily go back on fags, unless e-cigs were completely removed from my grasp.

    In the fullness of time, as the switch to e-cigs gains momentum, fewer and fewer people will smoke lit tobacco, until it's such a minority market that Big Tobacco (as it is now) becomes minuscule tobacco, and eventually quits of its own accord. So, what seems like a defeat and weakening today is actually of less import than you might think - the important part has succeeded and will eventually lead to what you seek.

    I won't go further here - if you have watched you will know what else I would want to say - a big thank you for the work you have done so far and continue to do. If Carlsberg made MEPs....

  3. 2nd week of giving up tobacco thanks to Ecigs. I feel better and am saving stacks of money, Going to treat myself and my son to a night out in a nice restaurant with the money I have saved on not buying stinky cigs.

    Any restrictions on ecigs that make them less available or less attractive than tobacco would be a public health and harm reduction tragedy.

    Bottom line. They work. Nothing else does. So we should be promoting them not restricting them

  4. Wholehartedly agree with the comments above regarding your open-mindedness very refreshing in a politician . As an ex-tobacco smoker myself 45 years@40/day discovering e-cigs has been a godsend and the regulation proposals that yourself,C.Davies et al seem workable and more importantly appropriate.

    Tobacco control is another matter however and as an ex smoker I have my views but as Dave far more lucidly has stated above if e-cigs are allowed to flourish I hope and truly believe that tobacco cigarettes will be more and more marginalised to the vast benefit of the population ( but not Pharma or Tobacco co.)

    Many thanks again Rebecca , your reputation as a hard working pro- people representative has been enhanced through this process whatever the eventual outcome.

  5. Good new on the electronic cigarette front but bad if tobacco controls are bearing being left that isn't s good. I agree with others that e cigs have the potential to finally break the grip of tobacco and see its use fade but even as a smoker I welcomed controls that might curb new users staying in the tobacco fold (not all controls but well reasoned ones). I know it is a persons choice but watching loved ones kill themselves never was a pleasant thing.

  6. Regarding your proposal : Article 18 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1 – subparagraph 1
    "This product contains nicotine which is addictive and may damage your health."

    There are extremely few scientific observations that tobacco naive people have become addicted to nicotine use (with gums).

    Tobacco is addictive, nicotine is a factor of addiction, but combined with other substances. Beware that no scientific research has ever proven that inhaled nicotine alone is addictive to humans.

  7. Thank you so very much for all your hard work on behalf of vapers. Many hundreds? thousands? will not post their thanks here as they won't be the "posting" type. But they too thank you.

    Out of the terrible persecution of smokers, illogical legislation (like banning outdoor smoking), and legislation that has crippled whole sections of the population and the economy, comes a most amazing piece of technology - electronic cigarettes. They are a stunningly successful offering to smokers in their gravest hour. They could actually produce the results Tobacco Control has been so desperate to have - the ending of Big Tobacco's grip on society and the eradication of smoking.

    So it seems bizarre to me that they must be legislated against at all. They are neither tobacco nor medicines. They are simply a smoker's solution to Tobacco Control's own vindictiveness against them.

    I smoked for 50 years and the worse I was discriminated against, the more I refused to quit. I was a hardened, angry smoker. Almost overnight, vaping transformed me into a "non-smoker" - a non-smoking vaper. It has been THE one important action of my life. Every day I try to do something to spread the word to other people because it has been so important to me.

    So, as an angry ex-smoker, I am appalled that this most important thing, might be taken away from people who really need it as it is now. NOW vaping is life transforming. It should be allowed to grow, innovate and develop.

    If Tobacco Control squeeze the life out of it, they will be doing their own cause serious damage.

    I prefer vaping to smoking, but I am not willing to be legislated out of existence again.

    So although "good news for e-cigs" and not for Tobacco Control, sounds optimistic, I think that any interference by them AT ALL would be the most foolish thing they could do in their long history against smokers. E-cigarettes are neither tobacco nor medicine and Tobacco Control should have no influence on them. They should not be concerned. They should be delighted that smokers have found their own solution to smoking.

    Thank you again for your work on our behalf.

  8. I completely agree with the above as a smoker for 43 years on 30 a day I have had my e-cig for 9 months and would not want to go back to real cigarettes, but I will not be dictated to, and I too was an angry smoker and really determined to keep it up, my doctors have been pestering me for about 10 years to give up, I chose this path and am sooo pleased with myself, but the powers that be just try to suck the life out of us.

  9. Thanks Rebecca, you are a lifesaver no matter what happens. I just wish there were more around like you, even I do not agree with all your positions.

  10. why does nobody see the reality behind this..... the uk government knowing full well the eu would reject the MHRA's proposal, have stated they want to regulate our products, which a. we don't want, + b. we don't need... Now the EU have told our government they cant do that, it looks as tho the EU have saved our e-cigs.... This was the plan all along, if 10% of smokers have switch to vaping then that's approx. 130,000 votes to stay in Europe as they apparently saved our e-cigs.... Manipulation at its finest :s but as an e-cig retailer and consumer I will still be voting out of Europe :) Peace

  11. I think the above comments give you the answer, Rebecca. Object strongly to the restrictions on e-cigs and don't worry too much about the other tobacco control lunacy towards cigarettes - none of it will have any effect whatsoever. In fact, declines in smoking have stalled since most smokers realised it is now just a constant barrage of self-serving legislation from tobacco control - almost all of it without even remotely believable evidence - and hardened their attitudes against it.

    E-cigs work brilliantly and should be strongly supported, banning menthol or slim cigs will just anger smokers more and make them dig their heels in as real life evidence shows, so are not worth the petty stance taken by ignorant socialists and greens.

  12. Just over a year ago, my son bought me an Tornado Tank for Fathers Day. It was to be the best present I have ever had.
    I never intended to quit smoking but I saw this as a way of cutting down on my 30 a day habit. One year on and I am now a non-smoker and a keen vaper.
    In view of the on-going debate about e-cigs, how are cigarettes being allowed to get away with murder? It is beyond belief that a British Government would see fit to ban a product that is unarguably saving lives, whilst hardly mentioning cigarettes at all and will still be freely available for purchase without any restrictions whatsoever.
    It's totally crazy and I fervently hope that with your help and support, common sense will prevail and we can continue to enjoy our harmless pastime.
    Thanks from me and thousands of others.

  13. It's unfortunate you haven't gotten into the issue of the continued ban on snus which is a true perversion of tobacco control and public health. The science is overwhelming that snus is dramatically less harmful then smoking and yet the EU continues to support the ban outside of Sweden. It shows just how far down the rabbit hole the EU is when it comes to tobacco.

    I don's know much about Brazil and Australia, but I do know about Canada. Canada may well have the largest black market for cigarettes in the world with some provinces reaching at least 50% of all cigarettes consumed coming from the black market. The number of cigarettes consumed and the number of smokers is greatly underestimated. Youth smoking is going up is areas because of cheap unregulated cigarettes. I certainly would not hold Canada up as an example of good tobacco policy.

    The country with the lowest smoking rate in the developed world (and still falling) is Sweden. That is because a low risk alternative is readily available. The smoking rate for Sweden is less then half that of other countries in the EU. Not surprisingly the tobacco related disease rate is also less then half that of the rest of the EU. Harm reduction is the only method shown to work in reducing the negative health effects of smoking.

  14. @Alan, you are are correct that I decided to focus on ecigarettes and not snus. There are only 24 hours in a day and I had a lot of people including constituents, writing to me about ecigarettes, but only two people (yourself and a Dutch chap who was tweeting me this week) raised anything about snus, so I acted accordingly.

    However, my position on snus was that I leave the Swedes with their exception and do not interfere. So for example, I backed amendments tabled by some of my Swedish colleagues that would ensure the situation in Sweden remains unchanged. I did not do more than that.


  15. Your blog is distinctive. I have found your blog innovative. You have chosen very incredible theme for your sketch. I cherished it.
    canada vape

  16. First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics , i will be always checking your blog thanks. california criminal background check employment law

  17. VaporFi is the best electronic cigarettes supplier out there.

  18. Cheap online tobacco australia Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.