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 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.
I hope this is useful.