Europe — e-cigarettes to be banned in 3 years’ time if committee’s opinion is heeded. — ecf infozone

As many ECFers know, the European Union is shortly to issue a new directive on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products. This document is a reworking of Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC) which, amongst other things, prevented Snus from being sold across the EU, costing many lives in the process.

Tobacco Control is a thorny issue generally partly because of the vested forces that end up maneuvering it towards their own interests, and partly because of unintended consequences, and partly due to the inexactness of the science that forms policy. The Snus example is a classic one commissioners believed they were acting strongly to prevent unscrupulous suppliers hooking new users. In fact, they ended up preventing a reduced harm product from saving many existing smokers’ lives.

Why does this happen? In my opinion, it’s due to ignorance. Take for example, the Committee Hearing of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on February 25th this year (you can watch it here). Almost everyone involved was misinformed, and some were downright ideological concerning every aspect of electronic cigarette, including contents, the effect of nicotine, and smokers’ reasons for using them.

Indeed, this last point has been explicitly referenced in the explanatory preamble in the draft opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, where it is stated that «Consumers indicate as well, that they mainly use e cigarettes to quit smoking, what suggests that e cigarettes are perceived as a medicinal product.» a ludicrous and misleading sentence if ever there was one.

What is ‘to quit smoking’ in this context? It’s clearly «smoke smoking», or the inhalation of smoke produced by burning tobacco compounds. Someone who has exclusively taken up vaping is no longer smoking, but has not «quit smoking» in the way commonly understood ie, to be free of nicotine. There is no evidence whatsoever that e cigarettes are perceived as medicinal products by those that use them, or that anything other than a small minority use them to quit smoking and to quit nicotine this in a totally mendacious invention by whoever is drafting this proposal.

Anyway, enough of that let’s see what the relevant sections of the directive would look like if these proposals are accepted (dowload a PDF of the Draft Proposal as amended by Committee on the Internal Market)

Proposal for a

DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products

Articles 18 and 26 as amended by

DRAFT OPINION

of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

(COM(2012)0788 C7 0420/2013 2012/0366(COD)) 27.3.2013

TITLE III NON TOBACCO PRODUCTS

Article 18

Nicotine containing products

1. Nicotine containing products may only be placed on the market if they were authorized pursuant to Directive 2001/83/EC

1a. Member States shall ensure that nicotine containing products are not sold to persons below the age required for purchasing tobacco products.

Article 26

Transitional provision

Member States may allow the following products, which are not in compliance with this Directive, to be placed on the market until Publications Office, please insert the exact date entry into force 36 months

(a) tobacco products

(b) nicotine containing products

(c) herbal products for smoking.

So, the proposal is that all electronic cigarettes are banned 3 years after the publication date of the directive. This is a big departure from the previous draft in theory, but not in fact the previous draft would have allowed e cigs on the market, but with nicotine levels too low to be of any use for the vast majority of vapers. In fact, this draft is good, in a sense, because an extra year has been given for them to remain on the market.

The net effect is the same at some point in the near future, the only suppliers able to sell electronic cigarettes are those that are able to get market authorization to sell them as medicinal products, a costly and protracted process that will cause most suppliers to go out of business.

If you’re outside the EU, and don’t think this matters to you, think again this will be the pattern everywhere. This proposed directive is great for Big Pharma, probably great for Big Tobacco, and terrible for consumers.

Hat Tip Old Chemist in ECF thread.

Google

Europa — press releases — press release — consumers: eu move to reduce cigarette ignited fires to save hundreds of lives each year

European Commission Press release

Consumers EU move to reduce cigarette ignited fires to save hundreds of lives each year

Brussels, 14 November 2011 Cigarettes left unattended are one of the leading causes of fatal fires in Europe. Evidence shows that the number of fatalities can be reduced by over 40% with the introduction of ‘Reduced Ignition Propensity’ (RIP) cigarettes. This means cigarettes which self extinguish when left unattended and which are thus less likely to cause fire. This safety measure is already in place in some countries globally (US, Canada, Australia), and, in the EU, in Finland since April 2010.

As from 17th November 2011, once the new safety standardsi are published in the EU Official Journal all cigarettes sold in Europe will have to comply with these measures. It will be the role of the national authorities to enforce this new fire safety measure.

EU Health and Consumer Commissioner, John Dalli said «There is no such thing as a safe cigarette, and, obviously, the safest thing is not to smoke at all! But if people choose to smoke then the new standards which are about to fully enter into force will require tobacco companies to make only reduced ignition propensity cigarettes, and potentially protect hundreds of citizens from this fire hazard.».

Protecting citizens from fire hazard

Data from Member States covering 2003 to 2008 show that, in the EU, cigarette related fires cause more than 30,000 fires every year, with more than 1,000 deaths and over 4,000 injuries. The experience from Finland, where the number of victims of cigarette ignited fires has fallen by 43%, suggests that nearly 500 lives could be saved in the EU every year.

It must be stressed that tobacco is the largest avoidable health risk in Europe causing the death of more than an estimated half a million people in the EU each year. The Commission remains committed to a «smoke free Europe» and address this issue via its on going EU «Ex smokers are unstoppable» campaign (see IP/11/710 and MEMO/11/405).

New safety standards how does it work

The change which is required under the new standards is about reducing ignition propensity, which is the ability of a cigarette left unattended to start a fire. Cigarette paper manufacturers have changed their paper production to insert two rings of thicker paper at two points along the cigarette. If the cigarette is left unattended the burning tobacco will hit one of these rings and should then self extinguish, because the ring restricts the air / oxygen supply. A RIP cigarette cuts down the burning time, thus reducing the chance to ignite furniture, bedding or other material.

Background

The new standards have been drawn up under the General Product Safety Directiveii, which obliges producers to place only safe products on the market.

In 2008 the European Commission defined the safety requirementsiii, following discussion with Member States, the tobacco and paper industries and NGOs, and then asked the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) to develop the relevant standards, which national authorities will use to measure compliance with fire safety rules.

For more information

Contacts

Fr d ric Vincent ( 32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola ( 32 2 298 76 24)

i

EN 16156 2010 Cigarettes Assessment of the ignition propensity Safety requirement and EN ISO 12863 2010 Standard test method for assessing the ignition propensity of cigarettes

ii

OJ L 11, 15.1.2002, p. 4.

iii

Commission Decision 2008/264/EC. OJ L 83, 26.3.2008, p. 35.