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Lib Dem victory ensures Electronic cigarettes remain freely available to the public

October 8, 2013 2:30 PM
By Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat MEPs today won a major victory for e-cigarette users when the European Parliament voted this morning. A majority of MEPs backed their amendment which will ensure e-cigs are available for sale on the same basis as tobacco.

The initial proposal, which was backed by Labour MEPs and by the Conservatives' Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would have applied medical regulations to electronic cigarettes.

Bill Newton Dunn in EU ParliamentBill Newton Dunn Liberal Democrat MEP for East Midlands said:

"I am very pleased that the original proposal to regulate E-cigs as medicinal products and therefore to limit access to them, has been scrapped. E-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. It would have made no sense to deprive customers of easy access to the new electronic products that are proving successful in helping smokers wean themselves off the harmful effects of tobacco.

Every year 700,000 people in Europe die of smoking-related diseases, mainly cancer and heart disease. We should not make e-cigs harder to obtain than tobacco cigarettes."

The Facts

MEPs rejected the Commission proposal that electronic cigarettes should be treated as medicines, increasing their cost and reducing their availability in many countries.

The amendment from the ALDE (Liberal) Group stated that e-cigs should meet product safety standards and that there should be restrictions on their advertising and marketing, but that they had a major role to play in reducing tobacco-related deaths.

One final stage remains in the legislative process - which is to find a compromise text for the law between the EU's two legislative chambers, European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

John Wheaver - Kettering and Wellingborough comments

Delight at winning the vote on e-cigarettes has overflowed into uncritical enthusiasm for these devices. I think on balance they are a 'good thing' - just - but there are some negative considerations.

The blight of smoking will be perpetuated. The prospect of a future without a third of people present sucking adult dummies will be snuffed out for good. The smoker exhales nicotine into the atmosphere - possibly in significant quantity in the "smoke-filled room" which will now return to our lives.

It will be hard to distinguish real from virtual smokers, especially in a crowd, unless e-cigarettes are compulsorily a bright colour - now there's a thought.

How many more toxic batteries will finish up in land-fill? (I've no idea, and I really hate that sort of argument - but it might be a consideration).

E-cigarettes could well be a way in for juniors learning to smoke "like grown-ups", which has always been a motive to start. (I still remember - nearly 60 years ago - the jibe "Not smoking yet John?" I had to stick with my reply "I don't smoke!"). I can imagine in future "Still on toy cigarettes John?".