The EU Announces Its Final Verdict on E-Cig Regulation
After months of debate, the European Union has finally reached a decision about how to handle the growing electronic cigarette industry. With 28 governments involved in the negotiations, the EU worked for months to develop a plan to address e-cigs moving into the future. In December, they finally reached a verdict that could set the stage for an eventual ban on refillable e-cigarettes. The EU announced that the final decision would be up to the individual countries. If three separate countries decided to ban ecigs, then the entire EU would also adopt the ban.
In the beginning, the EU planned to regulate e-cigarettes are pharmaceutical products, but after heavy lobbying, the parliament voted down the proposal. The EU responded by placing the decision into the hands of the countries represented in the union. It’s a dangerous decision that may see as cowardly, effectively making someone else the bad guy so the EU can avoid giving the final call on this highly controversial decision.
Conservative leader Martin Callanan was extremely unhappy about the EU’s decision. “This is a perverse decision that risks sending more people back to real more harmful cigarettes. Refillable e-cigarettes would almost certainly be banned, and only the weakest products will be generally available. As many smokers begin on stronger e-cigs and gradually reduce their dosage, making stronger e-cigs harder to come across will encourage smokers to stay on tobacco,” he said.
On the other side, a senior diplomat said that e-cigarettes were merely a gateway that led people to tobacco use. He reportedly said, “It’s inhaled. It’s direct inhalation of nicotine into the lungs. That creates an addiction very fast. It encourages a switch to real cigarettes.”
Still others say that e-cigs are a gateway leading smokers to kick the habit. In the UK, there have already been 1.3 million smokers that were able to stop using tobacco by relying on electronic cigarettes. With more than 10 percent of smokers switching to e-cigs, you would think the government would celebrate a victory for public health, but instead, they are working to drive these citizens back to regular cigarettes.
With the latest ruling from the EU, each country will face a choice in how to handle refillable electronic cigarettes. While many parliament members wanted to ban the cartridges, others threatened a veto if that happened. Finally, both sides compromised by agreeing that cartridges could contain up to 20mg of nicotine or 1 ml of nicotine solution. However, if just three of the 28 governments represented in the EU choose a total ban on the cartridges, then the EU will have the power to send out a ban across all countries.
UK Independence party leader Nigel Farage was angry about the decision. He said, “This will lead to another ridiculous ban from the EU on the majority of e-cigarettes which are better for the health of smokers and for British manufacturers of e-cigarettes… the EU should not be putting restrictions on a safer alternative to smoking.”
Lib Dem MEP Rebecca Taylor agreed with Farage. “This is the exact opposite of what the tobacco directive is supposed to achieve. The fight is now on to show that it would not be justifiable to ban refillable cartridges on health and safety grounds,” she said.
Now the world will wait anxiously to see how individual countries will treat e-cigarettes. If three countries choose a ban, the European Union could adopt a dangerous decision that could have life-altering consequences for many smokers. Do you think three countries will move forward with a ban on electronic cigarettes?