Friday 18 October 2013

E-cigarettes and tobacco directive: what's next?

I am pleased to have played a role, along with my colleagues Chris Davies, Lib Dem MEP for the North West of England, and Belgian Liberal MEP Frédérique Ries in getting amendment 170 on e-cigarettes adopted by the European Parliament (EP) in the plenary vote on the tobacco products directive (TPD).

The EP will now enter negotiations with the 28 EU national governments ("The Council") as part of the co-decision legislative procedure. The Council position on the TPD includes e-cigarettes being subject to medicines regulation, but on key tobacco control measures e.g. health warnings, their position is rather similar to the EP.  

There is now serious time pressure to get the TPD concluded under the current Lithuanian Presidency of the EU and not to run into the Greek Presidency (which starts in January 2014), as Greece is Europe's biggest tobacco producer with a rather weak record on tobacco control.

Frédérique Ries MEP will represent the ALDE (Liberal) group in negotiations with national governments and will push to keep the parliament's position on ecigs in the final agreement. We (Frédérique, myself and Chris) will be consulting relevant experts to find practical solutions to concerns likely to be raised in relation to the regulation of ecigs, but what can activists or concerned individuals do? 

The focus is now on national governments whose health ministers will negotiate the TPD with the EP. I suggest contacting your MP to raise your concerns as well as the relevant Health Minister (for England, this is the newly appointed Public Health Minister Conservative MP Jane Ellison).

Keep your correspondence concise, polite and firm without over-dramatising or being aggressive, i.e. it fine to say "ecigs save lives", but not a good idea to accuse people of trying to kill you. I understand the passion involved, but being aggressive rather than assertive can lead to your concerns being dismissed as hysterical or bullying, or even worse, turn an undecided into a bona-fine supporter of medicines regulation.  

Many of those who support the medicines route seek (as I do) to make sure good quality e-cigarettes reach as many smokers as possible, but they believe (unlike me) that medicines regulation will achieve that.  

In any contact you have, I would suggest mentioning the following (please put into your own words, do not copy and paste!): 

  That ecigs attract smokers in a way that NRT products do not and thus have great potential to reduce smoking rates in Europe. (NB: if you are an ex-smoker who has switched to ecigs, briefly recount your personal story.) 

  The EP plenary voted clearly in favour of regulating e-cigarettes as consumer products (386 votes in favour, 283 votes against, 7 abstentions) and that all Liberal Democrat MEPs and all but one Tory MEP voted in favour of this amendment.  

  The EP position would require ecigs to be correctly labelled including in relation to nicotine levels, institute an under 18 sales ban and allow governments to impose marketing restrictions e.g. ban misleading advertising or that aimed at children/teenagers.

  That medicines regulation would impose additional costs that add no value, e.g. pharmaceutical grade manufacturing facilities and that many SMEs will be priced out of the market reducing consumer choice as well as decimating small businesses.

  That in many EU countries medicines regulation would make ecigs much less widely available than tobacco products, which will benefit the tobacco industry.

A battle has been won, but the war is not over yet.
Rebecca Taylor, Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.


  1. my mp as is my mep are both anti ecigs, which considering the fact they are supposed to represent the people is totally wrong, what they fail to realise is by alienating the vapers and even to some extent the smokers they are in fact pushing those people into voting them out of office, i for one will not be adding a cross next to thier names when the time comes, no matter what bluff they try to pull regarding changing thier minds for election

  2. I would like to thank you personally for the energy and time you have put into this legislation Rebecca, you have mitigated (somewhat) this rapidly-becoming-disillusioned-voter's view of modern politicians!

  3. I can not believe you are pushing millions of people to earlier graves. You obviously have not done your home work regarding e-cigarettes. I think you should read more and dictate less, in fact I think you and your dictators should disappear altogether. I would like YOU to sit in a room full of smokers for 1 hour, then sit in a room full of vapers for one hour, you will find no adverse reactions coming from a room full of vapers, where as you will cough and splutter, you will stink of cigarette smoke, your eyes will water and you will have been inhaling numerous deadly chemicals from second hand smoke. DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you really make a massive mistake by making e-cigarettes a medicine, which it is NOT. I myself smoked for 35 years, I had tried numerous times and ways in giving up, chewing gum, lozenges, cold turkey, sprays and even hypnotherapy, not one of them worked. I hated every cigarette I smoked, it's a serious addiction that I knew would eventually kill me. So when I tried the e-cigarette in January 2013 I thought to myself, sure, I will give it a go, have a rolled cigarette if I wanted one, which I did at first, and over the months I have totally given up cigarettes, I haven't had one in over 5 months. It to me is a break through, something I never thought I would EVER do. I started on 24mg nicotine and now I am on 12mg, next it will be 6mg and so on until all I vape is fresh air. The bonus to me is the savings in money, if you make this a medicine it will hike the price and become unaffordable to many, it will have to be made under strict laboratory rules, this all costs. The other thing is my health, I know I am healthier, I can breathe, I don't cough anymore, I don't stink of cigarette smoke, my house doesn't smell like an old ashtray, I can walk up a hill without thinking I am going to have a heart attack, my gums are growing back, my teeth are cleaner, my breath doesn't stink, shall I go on? I just hope that the damage you are willfully doing doesn't haunt you.

    1. Juliet... Might be worth reading Rebecca's blog again. She's on your side and understands the experience you and many others have had. She instrumental in stopping the regulation you are (rightly) concerned about.

  4. To whom did Aiduce, the French Electronic Cigarette Users Association, present their petition in defence of electronic cigarettes, signed by 40000 Francophones?
    To whom did Dutch speaking vapers hand over their own 10000 strong petition?
    To Rebecca Taylor, that’s who.

    We are deeply grateful to her.

    Along with a handful of her parliamentary colleagues, she listened to her ‘vaping’ constituents, examined the issue in detail and had the courage to stand against the Commission’s attempt to steamroll through a poorly drafted Directive that would have cost many more lives than it sought to save.

    The risk of the electronic cigarette being categorised as a medicine is now much reduced, but that of it being assimilated with tobacco products remains. This could lead to a ban on cross-border internet sales and, at least for us in France, to its imprisonment within a new state-controlled monopoly that would severely reduce consumer choice and sharply push up prices.

    We will continue to campaign better to inform our national legislators of the issues involved. However, we still need our friends in the European Parliament to defend the outcome of the vote that decided to maintain the electronic cigarette as a consumer product. Compromise may be required, but it should be of the kind suggested elsewhere by Clive Bates, such as subjecting it to the same sort of provisions that apply to cosmetics. By retaining its general availability as an alternative to tobacco, an ever increasing number of smokers will be encouraged to turn towards something infinitely less harmful.

  5. Thank you for taking an active interest in this, e-cigs are the most powerful method of smoking cessation as it is without governmental meddling with what is working fine so far.

  6. Yes your are wright and thanks for post a good topic . your post is

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  7. Nice discussion about e-cigs and tobacco.E-cigs is really a great invention so that it gets 386 votes as a consumer product.Overall its a awesome article.
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  8. A big THANK YOU from Germany!
    We are also writing to our MEP's to please stop that horrid Commission proposal to ban all existing e-cigs from the market. And we think it is a shame that the Commission wants to go directly AGAINST the vote by the European Parliament (who are the elected representatives of the people).

  9. Thank for all of your support. You are a breath of fresh air.

  10. You do realise that there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes ? Your lumping two things in together that don't belong together.

    Be a bit like Lemmy and Gary Barlow, do you see?

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