European union poised to ban e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco

PRLog (Press Release) Sep. 24, 2012 WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 24, 2012) The European Union EU appears poised to ban virtually all smokeless products containing nicotine, a ban which would include e cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, reports John Banzhaf, the public interest law professor whose legal actions prompted the EU to crack down on cigarette advertising in member countries.

The EU ruling could also affect how the U.S.’s Food and Drug Administration FDA finally decides to treat e cigarettes and similar products, and perhaps also governments in other countries which have been advised in a new document to likewise ban e cigarettes, suggests Banzhaf, who helped trigger a variety of legal actions aimed at e cigarettes.

The still secret but now leaked working document of the European Union’s Tobacco Product Directive TPD recommends a ban on the marketing of all smokeless products containing nicotine, saying «Only NCP nicotine containing products that are authorized as medicinal products on the basis of their quality, safety and efficacy, and with a positive benefit/risk balance are allowed on the market. Otherwise, marketing of NCP is banned.»

Some of the specifics of the TPD recommendation, which also include conventional cigarettes, provide
a complete prohibition of all types of smokeless tobacco in all EU countries (except Sweden where Snus could still be sold)
a complete prohibition of all e cigarettes, otherwise known as electronic cigarettes or ecigs
a ban on using menthol and other flavorings in cigarettes
standards requiring all cigarettes to be a uniform length, thickness, and color
a prohibition on the display by shops of more than one variety of each brand
graphic health warnings covering 75% of the surface of cigarette packs

Along the same lines, a strong push to ban e cigarettes around the world may come when delegates to a convention charged with enforcing the world’s first antismoking treaty the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control FCTC meet in Seoul, Korea, in November. Banzhaf has had a major role in enforcing the FCTC.

A report issued by the Convention Secretariat to the body, which represents 176 countries containing 88% of the world’s population, is very critical of e cigarettes. Entitled «Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Including Electronic Cigarettes,» it argues that e cigarettes may present serious dangers and no health advantages, and may violate the spirit if not the letter of the FCTC.

Banzhaf, whose legal actions prompted the FDA as well as several attorneys general to take action concerning e cigarettes, suggests that what the EU and FCTC countries do could have a profound effect on how the FDA finally decides to regulate e cigarettes in the U.S.

«After all, if most of the world regards any nicotine delivery device, other than those providing medical benefits, to be a danger to the public health, it would seem incongruous and inconsistent for the U.S. which has been a leader in many antismoking areas not to crack down on e cigarettes, and to provide them with an implied regulatory approval,» suggests Banzhaf. Several U.S. jurisdictions have already enacted legislation dealing with e cigarettes.

Recently, USA Today reported on a variety of dangers presented by e cigarettes, including damage to the lungs of users, and potential hazards to bystanders forced to inhale the nicotine laden vapors. It also reported «‘There’s a danger e cigarettes could lure in kids who might not otherwise smoke,’ says anti smoking activist John Banzhaf, a professor at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. He pushed for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate them.»

The EU consists of 27 countries Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW, Suite S402
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994 7229 // (703) 527 8418
/ profbanzhaf

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