EU Parliament Votes Against Medical Regulation For E-Cigs!

By John Madden Posted October 9, 2013

Here in the states, we awoke to big news this morning from our neighbors across the pond. Today, Members of European Parliament voted on several revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive. Among them was a vote on whether or not to classify e-cigarettes as medicinal products, restricting sales to pharmacies for products with a nicotine concentration over 4%, or 4 mg/ml.

 

We are happy to report that MEPs voted 362 to 298 against a proposal that would have labeled e-cigs as medicinal products! This is a HUGE victory not just for European vapers, but the vaping community as a whole. There is speculation that the FDA is considering limiting e-cig products sold in the United States to as low as 1mg/ml or even 0.5. Today’s ruling could set precedence for future legislative measures on nicotine content of e-cigarettes in other countries.

 

Other measures voted on included a ban on cigarette flavors, something the FDA already has in place, with a five year phase-out process for menthol. And, for the time being, slim cigarettes will not be banned, however it will now be illegal for tobacco companies to sell cigs in packs of 10 or fewer. As for advertising, 65 percent of every pack of cigarettes sold in the EU will be covered with a health warning label. These measures are all to deter young people from picking up smoking.

 

There is, however, a cap on the amount of nicotine electronic cigarettes can contain. The amendment, drafted by the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats, limits the nicotine content of e-cigs to 30mg/ml and prohibits sales to people under the age of 18.

 

Had electronic cigarettes been classified as medical products the majority of the EU market would have likely been decimated by the new regulations in 2014. The majority of e-cig users vape with nicotine concentrations in the 6-24mg/ml range and those would have been subject to medical approval which would ultimately drive prices and restrict access to them.

 

An estimated 1.3 million people in the UK alone are current e-cigarette users. While today’s vote is considered a victory for public health by many vapers, those in the UK are still faced with an MHRA announcement in June to classify any product containing nicotine as a medical device. Those regulations are slated to be put into effect sometime over the next two years, pending today’s Parliament ruling.

 

But then there’s the legal argument. ECITA, the UK’s e-cigarette industry group, hired a lawyer back in June to take a look at the EU’s tobacco directive. Sir Francis Jacobs QC described the proposal as “an unreasonable measure which is liable to be annulled as being contrary to the principle of proportionality and/or the principle of non-discrimination.”

 

Many Conservative and Liberal Democrat MEPs have taken to twitter to voice their support in today’s vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some feared the TPD proposals would have hurt the job market and effectively put many companies out of business. Others argued it would have been bad for public health with one describing the vote as “safeguarding the most effective tool yet developed in the battle to defeat smoking-related disease and death.”

 

Countless other MEPs credited thousands of testimonial letters from the vaping community. Nicotine is the key word here as e-cigarettes are not marketed as NRT, but rather as an alternative to tobacco. Keeping e-cigs on the consumer market has the potential to save millions of lives.

  • Jim Baker

    finally all our hard work paid off :) we owe it to all the people down in the trenches fighting for us everyday.

  • james dunworth

    “There is, however, a cap on the amount of nicotine electronic cigarettes can contain.” There’s also the worry that the TPD as it stands will ban internet sales, and here in the UK that the government will move to ban ecigs despite the EU directive.

    • I think the FDA banning internet sales is one of our biggest worries in the states as well. And I read your post about the MHRA holding their ground against the EU’s TPD vote. Do you foresee the possibility of a change of heart over the next two years James?

      • james dunworth

        Yes, in the EU, if enough vapers can be persuaded to take action. We have already won compromises on medicalisation, and there are millions of us, so the key is to get people writing. I don’t really know enough about the situation in America (except that the poor people at CASAA have their work cut out), but surely politicians there are worried about the same thing – losing votes.

        • Here, the FDA has been granted permission to classify and regulate e-cigs as tobacco products. However, getting new tobacco products on the market is no easier… and possibly harder, than getting medical approval. It all depends on what e-cig products they wind up considering “new” and what already existed prior to the ruling going into effect. But our government shutdown must end before anything happens!

  • JasonWhite42

    Users of ecigs welcomed the news that EU lawmakers rejected tight medical regulation for ecigs. As always ecigs managed to come out on top. Besides everything else, I think what vapers want is – transparency. There should be a proper labeling on e-liquids along with detail information on the ingredients used because this is the assurance to the customers that they are using the right product.

    Also, bringing ecigs under the scope of medicinal regulation will not work because pharmacies will not be able to give vapers the kind of information and advice that they need. This is more so in case of first time users of electronic cigarettes.

    Now it remains to see if the EU’s decision will have any influence on the impending regulations from the FDA.