In a surprise move, a former British MEP who now sits in the House of Lords has tabled what’s known as a ”Fatal Motion” that would block Article 20 of the EU Tobacco Products Directive from being introduced into UK law.
Lord Callanan’s motion gives the Government the opportunity to address the issues with the part of the EU legislation that pertains to e-cigarettes. Consumers and industry have long argued that some of the measures are unnecessary, arbitrary and do not follow on from the scientific evidence of their relative risk compared to tobacco cigarettes.
Ban on stronger nicotine e-cigarettes: As smokers begin to switch from cigarettes to these reduced risk alternatives, they need higher levels of nicotine in order to satisfy their cravings. UK Department of Health officials have said that the cap on nicotine risks pushing vapers back to smoking. Some 252,000 vapers in the UK currently use e-cigarettes above the EU limit of 20mg per millilitre.
Bans on e-cigarette advertising: the UK Department of Health estimates that 90% of e-cigarette advertising would be banned under the new law. However, last month the Royal College of Physicians in London called for e-cigarettes to be promoted “as widely as possible”.
Disproportionate warning labels: In their 200 page report the Royal College of Physicians point to increasing numbers of smokers falsely believing that vaping is as dangerous as smoking which may discourage smokers from trying them. E-cigarette products will also be required to have an accompanying safety leaflet, something that is not required for tobacco cigarettes.
In Ireland, the Irish Vape Vendor Association has welcomed the vote, saying it would send a strong message to other governments in the EU that Article 20 of the EU tobacco products directive should have been looked at more closely, and that consumers and SME’s were never properly consulted.
”The law comes into force tomorrow”, said IVVA spokesperson Gillian Golden, ”and yet we’re still waiting for the department of health officials to provide details of how SMEs here can be in compliance. It’s hard to reconcile how with over 5,800 people every year in Ireland dying from a smoking related disease the dept would be so indifferent about a product that offers smokers a pathway out of tobacco smoking.”