Lib Dem MEP, Rebecca Taylor, has responded to the call of hundreds of electronic cigarette users to ensure that the new EU tobacco legislation does not make e-cigarettes more difficult to buy than tobacco. Rebecca has joined forces with other MEPs including North West Lib Dem colleague Chris Davies to propose changes to the legislation currently being examined by the European Parliament in order to regulate e-cigarettes appropriately, but not as medicines as the draft new tobacco legislation had proposed.
Electronic cigarettes or e-cigs as they are commonly known are electronic devices using a liquid solution containing nicotine enabling the user to inhale nicotine vapour, which many users call “vaping”. While e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they do not contain the cancer causing substances found in tobacco and are almost exclusively used by former smokers as a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco. Many in the public health community see them as a harm reduction tool.
The initial proposal from the European Commission (EU Civil Service) would have seen e-cigs regulated as medicines like nicotine gum or patches. This caused considerable alarm amongst e-cig users, fearful this would regulate e-cigs out of existence and push them back to tobacco.
Rebecca sought to consult the views of e-cig users and heard from hundreds of them.
Commenting on her efforts to make sure e-cigs are not over-regulated Rebecca said,
“I was concerned that regulating e-cigs as medicines could lead to them being less available than tobacco. This would not be a positive move in public health terms nor for the health of those ex-smokers who have switched to e-cigs and stopped using tobacco. I have been contacted by many Yorkshire residents who have said it was because of e-cigs that they were able to stop smoking – any moves to limit their availability would be a step backwards.”
Rebecca Taylor has warned that final agreement has not yet been reached and urges users to make their views known to MEPs in all parties. Rebecca added,
“While there is a need to better regulate e-cigs, this must be done through a ‘light-touch’ approach that will not restrict their availability to adult smokers. I am working with fellow Lib Dem MEP, Chris Davies and others to push for an appropriate solution that will ensure e-cigarettes remain available as a harm reduction tool for ex-smokers”.
The amendments to the Tobacco Products Directive tabled and co-signed by Rebecca Taylor can be found here: