Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Worried about the overregulation of e-cigarettes and want to do something about it?

Following an agreement among the leaders of the European Parliament's political groups last week, the final EP vote on the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has now been pushed back to the 8th of October 2013.

Although the vote was not delayed because of the issue of ecigs (contrary to what some ecig campaigners appear to believe), the delay gives extra time for for ecig campaigners to contact MEPs in order to highlight their concerns over the proposals in the TPD to regulate ecigs as medicinal products (like nicotine gum and patches).  

If this affects you or you feel strongly about it, you might consider emailing or writing to the MEPs in your region to express your concern.

If you decide to contact any MEPs, perhaps consider the following points:

  • Make your email polite, concise and where possible add personal experiences. In the UK, it is common to include your postcode in a letter/email (full address is not necessary) to show that you are a constituent of the MEP concerned.

  • E-cigarettes clearly need some regulatory framework and this already exists in EU consumer product legislation. The relevant legislation could benefit from some improvements e.g. under 18 sales ban, marketing restrictions to prevent products being targeted at minors. Suggesting that there is no need to regulate e-cigs or that no improvements are possible may not be best the tactic.  

  • Requiring ecigs to be authorised as medicines is over-regulation and risks two things: (1) that ecigs become less widely available than tobacco products, (2) As many ecigs are made by small and medium sized companies, these companies may decide they cannot manage the costs and complexity of medicines regulation and pull out of the market, reducing the choice of ecig products available. Both these outcomes could push ecig users back to tobacco, which is highly undesirable.

  • The proposal to regulate ecigs as medicines is NOT a de-facto ban, but it is likely to have negative effects (see previous point). If you write to an MEP saying the proposal will ban ecigs, there is a risk you will not be taken seriously.

  • Many of the MEPs supporting the medicines route for ecigs genuinely believe that this will improve the quality and reliability of ecigs on the market, which will be of benefit to smokers seeking to quit tobacco. Telling them that their position will kill people is not the best way to encourage them to reconsider their position.

  • If you or a family member/friend have managed to quit tobacco completely or seriously reduce the amount you smoke with the help of e-cigarettes, outline (briefly) your personal story to show how ecigs can have a positive effect on the health and life of ordinary people. However, take care not to 'overdramatize' your story.

  • DO express your concerns in your own words and do NOT copy any of the points made here word for word. There have been accusations by some MEPs that individual ecig campaigners are actually staff from PR companies employed by ecig manufacturers (so-called "astroturfers"), so an email or letter that is very clearly in your own words is one way of showing that you are indeed an individual citizen expressing your concern.

If you live in the UK, you can find the contact details for your MEPs and directly send them a message here: http://www.writetothem.com/

Otherwise the contact details of all MEPs can be found here:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/map.html;jsessionid=9E0F819F9FE68F5160AFA1EF569780AA.node2

I hope this is useful.

Best regards,

Rebecca

3 comments:

  1. Thank you, Mrs Taylor.

    We all apreciate your work in this area. Many of us would, however, debate the accuracy of your position, "The proposal to regulate ecigs as medicines is NOT a de-facto ban". This is because the TPD removes all useful, effective and attractive refills, by virtue of the MHRA's statement that flavours will be prohibited, plus the provisions of the tobacco clauses (which we assume will be applied to e-cigarettes since no one has defintively stated they will not be) which again remove all flavours (even menthol).

    Since the result of removing half of a binary system is that the system is virtually useless, you can perhaps understand our concerns. We will be entering a situation where there will possibly be three or four refill options, with no flavours, from the current position where just one vendor alone supplies 7,000 possible options in refills (200+ flavours multiplied out by the various base types and nicotine strengths supplied) - which of course is a core factor in the viability of the system. E-cigarettes without refills are not really much use.

    Even if all the non-medical provisions of the TPD were not to be applied to ecigs, it still leaves us with all the flavours we want, without any nicotine.

    The TPD is designed specifically to create a de facto ban of e-cigarettes and that is its entire purpose in the ecig area. The concept that the prime movers care about our health is simply farcical, as any realist will tell you. The financial pressures are immense and overrule all else.

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