After months of heated debate and endless efforts from e cig companies and vapers, the European Parliament has finally made an official decision on upcoming regulations for electronic cigarettes. While the Parliament voted not to treat e cigs are medications, they are imposing strict new rules for e cig companies starting in 2016.
Based on the new rules, electronic cigarettes cannot be advertised in the 28 EU nations starting in 2016. In addition, all e cigs will have graphic health warnings on the labels and be childproof. Nicotine content will also be restricted with a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 milligrams per milliliter.
The ruling could be a major precedent as the FDA considers how to handle electronic cigarettes. New regulations are expected in the United States this year. For now, individual cities are deciding how to treat e cigs and some have already voted to ban vaping in places where tobacco cigarettes are already prohibited.
Over the past 13 years, the European Union has cracked down on the tobacco industry and electronic cigarettes are now falling under the same harsh regulation. The official ruling will be complete after all member states give approval, which should be finished in April.
Electronic cigarette rules represent only a small portion of the latest tobacco control changes. The Parliament also voted that tobacco companies must change their packaging so the top 65 percent of each cigarette pack is covered in graphic health warnings and photos depicting health consequences of tobacco use, such as diseased lungs. Unique cigarette packaging is also banned, including cigarette packs that look like lipstick or perfume. Products that would appeal to children are also being restricted, including chocolate flavored cigarettes. The EU plans to ban menthol cigarettes, but that rule is currently on a four year delay.
While many vapers and electronic cigarette companies are undoubtedly frustrated with the new regulations, it could have been worse. In previous months, the EU considered treating e cigarettes as medications and that would have had major economic consequences, forcing many small ecig brands to close and local European vape stores to go out of business.
All things considered, the majority of the Parliament is thrilled with the ruling. Parliament member Linda McAvan called the ruling a victory. The original proposal was stricter, and I would have voted for that, but the new law is anyway a huge step forward in tobacco control, she said.
Opposition is still expected when the new regulations take place. Tobacco and electronic cigarette companies from outside countries could potentially take the matter to court because the regulations could infringe on intellectual property rights and trade treaties.
Philip Morris International released a statement shortly after the ruling was announced, saying the decision represents a worrying departure from the EU s basic standards of proportionate, evidence based policy making, which will further erode intellectual property rights and undermine the EU charter where these rights are protected.
Despite the majority ruling to regulate e cigarettes, some political leaders were not in favor of the decision. British politician Martin Callanan is among those that are concerned about the far reaching consequences of the new regulations. He called the ruling a massive loss for public health in Europe.”
While there is still some time before the regulations officially begin, e cigarette companies will have to act quickly to adapt to the changing rules. Only time will tell what the real consequences will be for the ecig industry.
How do you think the new regulations will impact European e cig companies and vapers?
Proposed ban of ‘too realistic’ e-cigarettes by european union draws ire of proponents of nicotine devices
All electronic cigarettes currently on sale in Britain would be banned and removed from shelves under new European Union proposals.
As more children use e cigarettes, heath officials worry it will lead to regular smoking
Children like adults are increasingly trying electronic cigarettes, according to the first large national study to gauge use by middle and high school students.
About 2% of the students said they d used an e cigarette in the previous month, according to a survey done last year. That was up from 1% in 2011.
More kids still smoke traditional cigarettes than the new electronic ones, and it s not clear how dangerous e cigarettes are. It s also not clear from the report how many are using them on a daily or weekly basis.
A confidential negotiating document drafted by the European Commission seeks to overturn a vote by Members of European Parliament that rejected outlawing them in their present form.
Brussels officials fear that there is a “risk that electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to normal cigarettes,” according to the paper. It wants to include the smoke free alternative under a new EU “tobacco products directive” despite the fact they contain no tobacco.
The attempt to ban e cigarettes drew anger from suppliers in Britain, where 1.3 million have switched to the devices.
Fraser Cropper, the chief executive officer of Totally Wicked, an e cigarette supplier based in Lancashire, U.K., said “Behind closed doors in Brussels, unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats are drafting proposals that will deny millions of existing and former smokers access to a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes.”
A town in northern France has become the first to impose a ban on electronic cigarettes in public buildings. Francois Digard, the mayor of Saint Lo in the La Manche region of Normandy, passed a decree this month outlawing them.
France, which has an estimated 1.5 million e cigarette users, is mulling a ban but the mayor apparently decided to jump the gun after several non smokers said they were unhappy about the devices being smoked in public libraries. “The e cigarette is not neutral in the immediate environment. With it emitting odour and a bit of smoke it can really bother some people,” Digard told France Bleu Cotentin radio.
EU officials say the devices ‘normalize the action of smoking’
As cigarette smoking has been increasingly stigmatized, the sale of electronic cigarettes has risen dramatically.
E cigarettes consist of a battery, a cartridge containing nicotine, a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine mixed with water, and an atomizer to turn the solution into a vapour. The nicotine is delivered without a flame and without tobacco or tar and e cigarette users describe the experience as “vaping” rather than smoking. They are widely considered a healthier alternative, however, the Dutch public health institute on Wednesday published a policy paper claiming that electronic cigarettes are as harmful as ordinary cigarettes, saying that they are addictive and contain poisonous substances.
Because the products are new and do not contain tobacco, they are outside EU law and are more or less unregulated in Britain and across Europe.
The officials in Brussels want that to change, saying the devices “normalize the action of smoking”. “Electronic cigarettes are a tobacco related product and should be regulated within this directive. They simulate smoking behaviour and are increasingly used and marketed to young people and non smokers,” said the commission negotiating paper.
‘Forcing e cigarettes off the shelves would be crazy. It would remove a valuable support for people desperate to stop smoking’
The proposals would ban, by 2017, e cigarettes that produce levels of nicotine above 20mg per mL, those with refillable cartridges or those that taste like tobacco. Suppliers say all e cigarettes currently available would fall foul of the rules.
Martin Callanan, a Conservative MEP, said “Forcing e cigarettes off the shelves would be crazy. It would remove a valuable support for people desperate to stop smoking and thus could potentially lead to needless deaths.”
A commission spokesman said “I never comment on leaked documents.”
- Jesse Kline Don t believe the fear campaign e cigarettes can save millions of lives
- Dr. Aw E cigarettes are a public health disaster waiting to happen for young people and existing nicotine addicts alike