What a shame the UK E-Cigarette All Party Parliamentary Group didn’t write the EU Tobacco Products Directive.
I attended a meeting of the group yesterday and there was not a single person who thought the TPD was good legislation, while the value of e-cigarettes was clearly recognised by everyone in the room.
While the EU legislation on e-cigs is a badly written mess, from the initial consultation document it looks as if the government has tried to interpret them as sympathetically as possible.
Unfortunately, most of the discussion in the meeting focussed on general issues – I had been hoping for discussion on the implementation of the TPD. However, here’s a few key points that I thought might be of interest to vapers.
Deadline Right Up To The Wire
As we already know, we won’t fully know what will be required with e-cigs and packaging until just before the legislation comes into place.
This is ridiculous – how are we supposed to design and create products and provide packaging when we don’t know what is required? It is certainly not possible to do so in a couple of weeks, especially when we have to notify the MHRA 6 months before we launch a new product!
However, the UK government is considering allowing 6 months after the implementation of the TPD to continue manufacturing/importing existing products. It’s also considering allowing existing products (that have already been manufactured/imported) to be sold until May 2016. It’s vital for the survival of the industry that this goes ahead, so do add your support for this via the UK government’s consultation process here.
Totally Wicked Case
As you may know, Totally Wicked are challenging the TPD. The politicians in the room expressed hope the case would be satisfactory. There was some difference in opinion over whether the TPD would be thrown out if the case was won.
You can help support the Totally Wicked case by adding your signature here!
Impact of Tobacco Products Directive
As one politician pointed out, there are 2.6 million vapers in the UK, and the government has no idea of the impact of the TPD. They are very worried about how millions of people will react when they suddenly find their product is very limited.
What wasn’t mentioned, but must be in their minds, is that this will likely happen shortly before the vote on whether to remain in the EU.
Children and E-Cigs
The impact of e-cigs on children were discussed. Despite a new scare study from the USA, the usual conclusions based on UK data (i.e. very few children are using e-cigs regularly, and they tend to be existing smokers) were cited – see here for details.
Public Place Bans and Scaremongering
Huge concern was expressed over public place bans and media scaremongering. Louise Ross of the NHS stop smoking service (see our interview with her here) said there had been a massive decrease in success rates after the formaldehyde scare (which she described as absolute bullshit).
The key point with both media scare stories and public place bans was that they are sending the wrong message to smokers i.e. that e-cigs are dangerous when in fact they are at least 95% safer than tobacco cigarettes.
Professor Gregory McFiggins also pointed out that there is a scientific basis for difference between smoke particles and vapour particles, as E-cigs vapourise in the same way as steam from a kettle.
Fires and Explosions in E-Cigs
This was also briefly discussed. There have been 200 explosions in 2 years. This compares to 7 fires a day from tobacco cigarettes.
Apparently, it’s been highlighted in an answer to a parliamentary question that there have been numerous adverse reactions to Champix/Chantix, and also to nicotine replacement aids – but very few to e-cigs.
We were asked for items to be placed on the agenda for the next meeting. I have asked for discussion on whether the MHRA, who have twice tried to ban e-cigs and have a built-in conflict of interest, was the right body to regulate non-medical e-cigarettes. Should the same body that tried to ban e-cigs in 2010 be given responsibility for regulating them?
I’ve little hope of getting this changed, but at least its on the agenda.
That’s all for now. Huge thanks to Lorien for another excellent talk giving the consumer’s point of view – as you can see from her post here, she’s making big sacrifices on behalf of vapers everywhere:
Have Your Say
The UK is consulting on implementation of the TPD as we speak. If you’d like to feedback to them, you can do so here.