Breaking News: EU Votes to Ban Ecigs, Keep Tobacco Cigarettes Legal and Keep Collecting Tobacco Taxes
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If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today. It’s a massive potential public health prize.

Professor John Britton, chair of the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians Source: BBC

Unfortunately, the EU chose not to listen to Professor John Britton, or their own legal committee which advised that EU plans were illegal, and voted today to make electronic cigarettes a medicine while allowing cigarettes to be freely sold.

Balloons being burst in Brussels.

(Above, balloons being burst to signify the lives lost if a ban goes ahead. Taken from Dick Puddlecote’s account of his trip to Brussels to protest against the ban.)

Let’s recap:

  • electronic cigarettes, which could save five million British lives, will be restricted and regulated as a medicine
  • the technology to comply with medical regulations doesn’t exist, although one company spent two years and millions of dollars trying to comply
  • if a product can be created which complies, it will probably be a disposable type with a single flavour (each flavour will require a separate licence, which could cost over a million pound each, and will have to be renewed yearly)
  • tobacco cigarettes, which scientists estimate kill between one third and half of all users, will continue to be freely available

Chris Davies, who with Rebecca Taylor and many other British MEPs had campaigned hard against the legislation, tweeted:

Chris Davies ECIG tweet.

The Fight Goes On

Let’s not forget that the EU’s own legal opinion is that this legislation is illegal.

The EU legal committee voted against the legislation for that reason, and Sir Francis Jacob QC, former Advocate-General to the European Court of Justice describes the proposed ban on e-cigs as:

an unreasonable measure which is liable to be annulled as being contrary to the principle of proportionality and/or the principle of non-discrimination.

So the fight goes on!

Also see: EU Committee Moves Forward to Medicinalize eCigarettes


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43 Responses to “Breaking News: EU Votes to Ban Ecigs, Keep Tobacco Cigarettes Legal and Keep Collecting Tobacco Taxes”

  1. Wendy July 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Well, this is a blow we could well have done without after all the efforts which have been put into trying to educate the Eurocrats. I shan’t lose hope, as you say it may yet be annulled as not legally valid and October’s still a way off.

    It’s a real shame though, and I totally agree with Chris Davies’ comment – he’s “got it” anyway.

    A bigger concern for me would also be the immediate creation of a totally new black market which would no doubt appear overnight in 2016, undoing ALL the work ECITA and others have already put in to date.

    • James Dunworth July 10, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

      Absolutely, although that would probably be better than people going back to ecigs.

  2. Alan leigh July 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Hi James I was a 60 a day man took me 2 days to get used to e Cigs I think there wonderful
    I was told by my doctor to give up smoking , and he was quite happy for me to have e cigs
    When they are banned will I be able to get them on prescription or at a chemist I know if they ban them I will go back to smoking ,,,,
    and I don’t want to do that
    Kind regards Alan L

    • James Dunworth July 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      No one knows exactly how it is going to work – you might have to order them from abroad. I suspect the big tobacco companies will get something through, probably a disposable.

  3. Jarrod July 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    I think what worries me most is, knowing our own “bend over backwards for the EU rules” Government, they won’t wait for any legal advice and take it as read that they can now say the MHRA ruling has been justified, and plough on with effectively banning our e-cigs, after all why wait until 2016 (all that lovely tax money lost)when you can make people miserable now.

  4. cricque July 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    It’s just plain stupid, i smell alot of new trips/villa’s and cash being handed out. But not from tobacco companies, but pharma industry. They want you to smoke, so you have to take medicine. They want this to be a product only they can sell, so they can gain all the profits. It’s all the pharma industry

    • James Dunworth July 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      There are financial links between pharma companies and those campaigning against ecigs – but see my comment on big tobacco below!

  5. jess July 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    This is the only thing to stop me smoking after 38 years
    I have tried patches ,gum, tablets but none of these things work I don’t see the problem,unless the government are worried about losing so much revenue from tobacco

  6. Switchtoecig July 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Please, don’t think it’s just big tobacco. Not that I like them, but if you look closer, you’ll see big pharma and big tax lurking behind some corrupt politicians, even more.

    If nothing, big tobacco can always (and some of them already have) jump on the e-cig bandwagon and continue making money – this time with much healthier product and a lot of money left over from decades of selling the harm inflicting one.

    E-cig would leave big pharma without huge profits they make on selling their ineffective NRTs (5% is not a success in any book!), some junk with dangerouus side-effects like that Champix-Chantix thing, and last but not least, chemotherapy.

    E-cig has the potential of leaving governments without a lot of tobacco tax money, we know that. So, I really believe government and big pharm have more to do with this than big tobacco (althouth possibility of their involvement is by no means excluded).

    • Dick Puddlecote July 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      At least someone gets what is happening here. I really can’t understand all the above comments saying it’s a the evil hand of tobacco. No-one saw this then?

      This decision has cost those tobacco companies who are buying into e-cigs millions of pounds, while it has saved millions in lost sales for pharma cessation products. Sheesh.

      • James Dunworth July 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

        I am not so sure. If anyone can get those licenses tobacco companies can, but at the same time it will knock out 95% of the companies that currently manufacture ecigs, which would more than cover the cost of regulation. If they knocked out those companies, they would’nt need to worry about the growing trend of refillable and modified ecigs, and could concentrate on rolling out a mass produced and more profitable disposable or two part model. Tobacco companies have been pushing for tight regulations in the US, probably for the above reasons.

        Just because big pharm are the bad guys doesn’t mean big tobacco are the good guys :)

      • Switchtoecig July 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

        Thank you for what you’ve been doing. I wish I could go to Brussels, too.

  7. LINDA FISHER July 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm #


  8. James Dunworth July 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    I don’t think tobacco should be banned, but it seems paradoxical to ban ecigs (or make it much more difficult to obtain)while leaving cigarettes legal.

  9. Mark Madine July 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    I was a 40 a day smoker who has tried everything to get off cigs from patches to gum with no success until I tried the refillable e cigs and I tried it at 5pm on the 8th of February and have not smoked since. I feel better and fitter. Now I am slowly reducing my use of the e cig too so I finally come off them also. I feel that I will get there and finally become a full ex smoker. But I fear for all those other smokers out there that wont have the chance I have because The EU have decided that E cigs should be banned but real cigs are ok.
    My one hope is that Scotland votes for to leave the UK and with any luck the EU also because the EU is a cancer that needs to be cut out.

    • James Dunworth July 11, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      I’m not sure Scotland will be any better, they seem to be virulently anti-nicotine!

    • Sandra Kelman July 12, 2013 at 12:58 am #

      Sorry Mark but scotland would be no better of as SNP are very PRO EU

  10. Benji July 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    Nice round up James. Do you know at what stage the potential for it being overturned on legal grounds is?

    • James Dunworth July 11, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Thanks, Benji. As I understand it, we have a very strong case, but I shudder to think of the cost of funding the challenge!

      • Benji July 14, 2013 at 9:39 am #

        Looks like the plenary is in September after the summer recess. With all that’s going on with the cigarette plain packaging scandal atm i’m hopping this will shed light on our cause also.

  11. Al July 11, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    Waow just proves what everybody suspected a vote totally motivated by ‘cash’ (taxes) absolutely no other explanation,I now know FOR SURE that if the EU had control over heroin they would try to ban methadone. And every person who voted to keep tobacco and ban e-cigs are a total f@*&#n disgrace to their families and the people they are meant to represent. A perfect example (of immense preportions) of one step forward and two steps back. Sorry about my rant,but I can’t explain in words how much I detest tobacco. Haven’t smoked a filthy,dirty, numerous disease causing, smelly cigarette in 6 months,thanks to my vapour machine.

  12. lizzie July 11, 2013 at 5:36 am #

    The pharmaceuticals have much more clout than the tobacco companies. With MHRA and WHO coming out against e cigs, it must have given those MEPs the legitimacy they wanted to class e cigs as medicines. MEPs have completely ignored e cig users, The people who actually count, not MHRA or WHO. They have also ignored any science that says they are safe. The whole thing stinks.

    • James Dunworth July 11, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      They are certainly more clearly linked with an anti-ecig campaign, but I’m afraid I don’t trust the large tobacco companies either, and we know their profits are suffering because of e-cigarettes.

  13. Simon July 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    What exactly are they banning ?

    The ecig itself or the eliquid ?

    I ask because it is perfectly legal to buy paraphernalia for smoking drugs. What is illegal as the actual drugs you put into that paraphernalia.

    So, on that basis, I cannot see how they can ban the actual ecigarette. Surely the ban is on the eliquids that go into them.

    That being the case, I can see a boom for people to be selling kits for making your own eliquid and one can simply carry on vaping. After all, it would not be illegal to sell the ingredients for eliquid, neither will it be illegal to actually sell the ecigs themselves as long as you didn’t sell the eliquid to put into it.

    Another totally ill-informed and ill-thought out bit of pointless legislation by a bunch of Euro MEP’s trying hard to justify their existence, inflated salaries and perks (and backhanders from dubious lobbyists no doubt) !!!

    • James Dunworth July 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      My current understanding is they are banning the device as well as the eliquid :(

  14. Simon July 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Banning the device itself is futile as people will simply buy the device they want before the ban and carry on vaping.

    What are they going to do ? Send out squads of police officers everywhere to nab someone who happens to be vaping ?

    Besides, you could still sell the parts as separate items (just like one can buy all the components to build a computer) that could then be put together to make an ecigarette.

    As I said, ill-thought out legislation that would be impossible to enforce – especially if everyone simply ignored the ban. The French banned smoking in public places two years ago, but if you go to France you will notice that everyone just ignores it !!

  15. James Dunworth July 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    The other question, of course, is whether people will be able to buy them from abroad and ship them in!

  16. ken July 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    hi james,personally ecigs save lives,i had to stop smoking due to health problems,there is only one reason this ban may get introduced is quite obviously a tax thing from the government that they losing revenue,therefore to put these on prescription is the way foerward for them,and sod those who manage well on ecigs as to smoking cigs.this ban may not go yet,let us see what happens.

  17. John July 12, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Shipping a “drug” or “medicine” overseas would have huge legal repercussions. They will be watching for that.

    • James Dunworth July 12, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      You could be right. I was thinking of the situation in Australia, where smokers can buy e-liquid from abroad, but it might be different here in The UK.

  18. bernie rodway July 12, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    Cigarettes containg nicotine are readily available and contain other addictive chemicals Ecigarettes do not contain these harmful chemicals

  19. Wendy July 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    I’m beginning to think Simon (above) may well have a very valid point. There are now just so many different kinds of hardware available that it might well be completely impossible to prevent people getting their hands on something which will ‘do the job’.

    The sole and only product which has ANY relationship to tobacco is the nicotine liquid – and this is after all supposed to be a TOBACCO Products Directive, isn’t it? Therefore the liquid is the ONLY thing they could try to enforce legislation on, so we’re back to my original point about creating a new black market and all that implies. NOT a smart move at all, and it still won’t give them their taxes back either.

    So in actual fact it will be the Eurocrats own very (wilful)ignorance about just how the market for vaping supplies has been developing over the past few years along with the huge numbers now using this technology in many different forms and formats which might actually scupper this at the end of the day.

    Simon’s certainly correct about it being an ill-informed and ill-thought out piece of legislation to attempt.

  20. John July 13, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    It’s all been calculated. Smokers = medical treatments = number of deaths = amount of profit made.
    E-cigarettes = no tobacco sales = no medical treatments = no deaths = no profits. We can’t allow that. E-cigs will be banned!

  21. Switchtoecig July 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    I’m apalled at this decision carried out by left MEPs. I’m kind of disappointed by the fact that they are lefties. We are obviously other shade of green and other kind of social democratic, them and me. (Doesn’t really surpise me so much, but that’s another story).

    Exchanged e-mails with Croatian MEP in ENVI today.(The country I live in entered Eu on 1st July). Of course she voted like the other lefts.
    Can’t do anything at the moment but rant. And rant.

    • lizzie July 14, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      I have an awful feeling I voted Green last time in the European elections. I’m all for the environment, I don’t get what e cigs are to do with green polices. Well I won’t make that mistake again. Health and personal freedom comes before party politics.

  22. Switchtoecig July 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    The biggest irony is that they do not (or do not want to) see that electronic cigarette is probably the greenest of all the recent green stuff and it works!

    If nothing else, it should have been enough that there are no, neither there can be, any harm whatsoever in passive vaping. They could have just seen it as new, largerly improved technology that doesn’t pollute the environment, is not inconveniet and reduces harm for the user.

    I mean, even if they don’t know better than to look at vaping as “smoking”, they could have seen it as “green smoking”.

    (This is going to be too long for a comment, so I’ll stop here and wish you all a nice Sunday. I’ll make this a post, so thanks Lizzie for sparkling it!)

  23. James Dunworth July 15, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Hi SwitchtoEcig

    Just an idea, could you make a blog post like this: on your blog for Croatia?


  24. Switchtoecig July 15, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Hi, James
    I might do that this summer. I’m still waiting for the further answer from that one Croatian MEP in ENVI.

  25. Euan September 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    I would donate to the legal cause as i think 2 million of us would be interested in donating money to make a stand it’s that or we riot who’s game?I’ll do both donate then riot!!

  26. Andy March 12, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Could fellow ecig users start a petition of some sort!!!


  1. UK Minister Ignores Parliament, Accidentally Votes to Ban E-Cigarettes - July 23, 2013

    […] In an astonishing story of government incompetence, a UK minister ignored parliamentary procedure to vote for the EU tobacco directive which would ban electronic cigarettes. […]

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