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Law360, New York (February 26, 2014, 6 26 PM ET) European Union lawmakers on Wednesday approved a final version of legislation putting further restrictions on the sale and marketing of tobacco products including, for the first time, electronic cigarettes all but guaranteeing its implementation.
The European Parliament passed the draft legislation by a vote of 514 to 66, with 58 lawmakers abstaining.
Representatives of the EU' s 28 member state governments will vote on March 14 on whether to approve the measure. They are expected to do so, as they put forward the version of…
Majority of e-cigarettes could be taken off market following new eu deal
The deal, which has not been finalised, could see all e cigarettes with over 20 milligrams of nicotine brought under new restrictions.
The European parliament is understood to be content with the use of refillable nicotine cartridges, but member states such as Britain and Germany are concerned that the cartridges can contain up to 10 milligrams of nicotine the equivalent of a carton of 200 cigarettes.
If refillable e cigarettes are prohibited in at least three member states, the commission would be able to extend the ban to all member states.
If the talks fail, e cigarettes would remain unregulated, providing a sigh of relief to an industry which could outperform the f700 billion cigarette market within ten years.
Proposals for all electronic cigarettes to be controlled by pharmaceutical legislation were rejected by MEPs.
Liberal Democrat MEP and health spokeswoman in the European parliament Rebecca Taylor said “Significant ground had been won in the rejection of Europe wide medicines licensing. But the decision to potentially ban refillable cartridges and devices in future would be a backward step.”
Euromonitor currently puts the value of the market at f2 billion, but a surge of investment from big tobacco firms like Philip Morris owner Altria, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco show there is widespread belief that electronic smoking could offer a popular substitute to the real thing.
A study published in the Lancet this year showed shifting to e cigarettes makes smokers at least as likely to quit as using nicotine patches and other research projects also suggest a significantly higher success rate than more traditional nicotine replacement options, like gum.
There are concerns around the safety of the product, however. A study presented at the American Society of Cell Biology in New Orleans showed prolonged exposure to nicotine, either through normal smoking or by e cigarettes, may damage the heart.