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Martin callanan » callanan: eu law on e-cigarettes has been made on the back of a fag packet

MEPs today held their final vote on the Tobacco Products Directive, which sets out a number of measures to discourage younger people from taking up smoking, such as larger pack warnings and a ban on flavourings. However, MEPs have also voted to introduce 14 pages of new red tape on e cigs (which deliver nicotine using vapour to avoid many of the harmful side effects of smoking such as tar, smoke and carbon monoxide). The new rules will ban refillable e cigs (which comprise a large component of the e cigs market), if only three EU countries ban them. It would also restrict all but the weaker e cigarettes (20 mg/ml nicotine), which would risk cigarette users going back to cigarettes in order to achieve the same nicotine hit .

Martin has fought a long campaign for e cigarettes to be regulated in a manner proportionate to the evidence that exists on them. He has received thousands of emails and letters from users who argue that the products have enabled them to move off of tobacco.

Last October, when the matter first came to a vote in the parliament, Conservative MEPs fought off efforts to force e cigs to undergo a medicinal authorisation procedure that would have placed many small manufacturers under threat. However, despite the vote of the parliament in favour of e cigs, the Commission and a few MEPs took it upon themselves to add a whole new article to the directive during the late night closed doors negotiations between the parliament and national governments seeking the agreement necessary to pass the proposals into law.

Speaking after today s vote, which is expected to become law by 2016, Martin said

E cigs are not healthy, but they are surely far better for you than smoking tobacco. We have fought for sensible regulation on e cigs that recognises the role they have played in taking many thousands of people off of smoking.

The parliament voted for e cigs to be lightly regulated until we know what regulation might be required. Yet sneaky MEPs and commission officials sneaked a whole raft of red tape into back room negotiations without discussing them with e cigs users or other MEPs. We have drafted huge parts of this law on the back of a fag packet with decisions about smoke filled rooms ironically being made in smoke filled rooms in Brussels.

The majority of the Tobacco Products Directive is on the zealous end of the scale but we could have accepted it. However, what we could not accept is the draconian restrictions on e cigs that were adopted. I believe we have completely failed to deliver the aim of discouraging smoking. By making it harder for smokers to get hold of e cigs of the strength they require, we just increase the chance of them resuming smoking tobacco.