European union goes light on e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes won&#39 t be tightly regulated as medical devices in Europe, lawmakers there decided.

Officials had proposed restricting direct sales to consumers, classifying the devices alongside nicotine patches and other smoking cessation products that require a prescription.

The European Parliament struck down that proposal, though, voting Tuesday to regulate them much as they do conventional cigarettes, with only the usual marketing, packaging, and 18 and older age restrictions.

While the lawmakers also voted to tighten restrictions on smoking tobacco packaging and menthol flavoring, e cigarettes were considered the main question.

In the U.S., the FDA is also weighing how to deal with the increasingly popular nicotine vapor devices

The agency has said it will issue proposed regulations on e cigarettes soon, a move that was widely expected by the end of October but may be delayed by shutdown related furloughs at the chronically understaffed agency.

It tried to regulate e cigarettes as medical devices but acquiesced in 2011 to an appeals court ruling that as long as no health claims are made for the products they only fit under the agency&#39 s authority to regulate tobacco.

Individual European Union member states have attempted to quash sales through tight regulation or outright bans, but these have typically been struck down by legal action.

The amended Tobacco Products Directive now has to be agreed upon by E.U. government ministers and voted on again by the parliament, but no meaningful opposition is expected.

These moves have been carefully watched as other public health agencies around the world are trying to get a handle on e cigarettes, which are often targeted to smokers wanting to quit.

A recent study indicated the devices were at least equal to nicotine patches in that regard, although other studies show there still is an impact on lung function despite elimination of carcinogenic tobacco smoke.

The FDA has previously warned e cigarette manufacturers against making claims that the devices help smokers quit.

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Eu ministers back ban on menthol cigarettes — eubusiness

(LUXEMBOURG) European Union health ministers on Friday approved plans to ban menthol and other flavoured cigarettes as part of a crackdown on youth smoking.

But the ministers reduced the size of mandatory health warnings on packages, including pictures of diseased organs, and they stopped short of banning «slim» cigarettes.

The proposed legislation must now be voted on by the European parliament. If they approve the law it could be in force across the 27 nation bloc within three years.

Irish Health Minister James Reilly, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said it was a «a huge step forward in the fight against tobacco use».

«We cannot have a situation where we have a product that kills 700,000 Europeans every year looking to replace those customers with children, because that’s where the advertising is focused,» he said.

The health ministers backed the plans despite objections from some countries that they would have a negative economic effect, an argument strongly backed by tobacco companies.

EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, himself a former smoker, said he believed the ban could be in place within three years, providing that it is passed by European MPs.

The proposed legislation was released in December by the European Commission the executive arm of the EU and has since been under consideration by the bloc’s ministers.

The health ministers meeting on Friday agreed a ban on tobacco products with a «characterising flavour» other than tobacco, for example fruit or menthol, which are particularly believed to target the young, according to a statement from the Irish presidency.

They also agreed to force tobacco companies to cover 65 percent of cigarette packets with written health warnings and gruesome pictures of diseased body parts.

But that figure is down from the 75 percent of packaging that was proposed in December.

One person involved in the negotiations however pointed out that it was an improvement from the current level of 40 percent.

Britain meanwhile secured the possibility for individual EU states to insist on plain packaging.

The ministers agreed on minimum packaging including a ban on «lipstick style» packs popular with young people, it said.

Council agrees its position on revised EU tobacco directive


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