First Reply From Brian Simpson MEP

Many thanks for writing to me about the important issue of the EU Tobacco
Products Directive, and how it will affect electronic cigarettes.

Because e cigarettes are a relatively new product they are regulated
differently in each EU country. Some countries allow e cigarettes to be
sold without any regulation at all. Others have banned the sale of
e cigarettes. As the UK is part of the EU’s internal market it is important
that we harmonise the way we deal with this product, otherwise consumers
could be buying unregulated products which do not conform to basic safety
standards, either within their own country, or by easily purchasing it over
the internet from a neighbouring country.

The European Commission has proposed that all ‘nicotine containing products’
with more than 2mg per unit should not be classed as tobacco products.
Instead, under the Commission’s proposals, nearly all e cigarettes will need
to get authorisation as a pharmaceutical product, in the same way as
nicotine patches, sprays and gums.

Of course there is a balance to strike. On one hand e cigarettes have the
potential to be a helpful way to help somebody quit smoking entirely and
greatly improve their health. On the other hand e cigarettes currently can
contain up to 48mg of nicotine far more than a regular cigarette, making
them highly addictive. As nicotine is the drug that makes cigarettes
addictive, somebody that tries e cigarettes could be much more likely to go
on to smoke regular cigarettes. Furthermore, there is no evidence that
e cigarettes are safe, and it is concerning that they are being marketed as
a ‘healthy’ alternative to smoking.
Currently we do not have any conclusive evidence either that e cigarettes
are helpful for giving up smoking, or that they encourage it.

While we do not have this scientific evidence to rely on I think it is
wise to have a cautious approach to e cigarettes. If they are
effective in helping people to stop smoking, then it is appropriate that
they are regulated in the same way as other smoking cessation tools, such as
nicotine patches.

The Commission proposal is not final and there will be many months of
negotiations by the European Parliament, as well as health ministers from
the UK and other EU countries, before the legislation is agreed.
During this time Labour MEPs will be looking carefully at all of the
measures and trying to find the best way to ensure that we effectively
reduce smoking rates in the UK and across Europe.

Thanks again for writing to me on this important issue.

Best wishes

Brian Simpson MEP

The second reply from a representative of Nick Griffin

Thank you for your email regarding the Government s revised European Tobacco Directive and in particular Nicotine Containing Products (NCP).

Mr Griffin has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.

Nicotine replacement therapies such as the use of Electronic cigarettes have proven to be an effective method for many smokers in their quest to kick the habit , however research into the use of electronic cigarettes before they hit the market was minimal and has not been subject to rigorous testing.

A recent consultation undertaken by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which is supported by the British Medical Association, has highlighted the need for evidence on the levels of nicotine that have a significant pharmacological effect, and the need for further information on the impact of regulation on public health and business and are therefore conducting further scientific and market research with the aim of answering these important questions and a final decision on the regulation of NCP s as medicinal products is to be made available later this year.

If, after the further research, nicotine containing products were to be regulated as medicinal, this approach could actually make such products more widely available, supported by clear information for users and appropriate advertising. If the evidence gathered supports a decision to licence nicotine products as medicines, NCPs would have a general sale legal status meaning they can be sold in general sale outlets such as supermarkets, therefore making them still readily available to the end user.

This guidance will support both a range of UK international agreements and the EU Directive on tobacco products .

Mr Griffin has a natural propensity, as you might expect, to vote against any attempts by Brussels to interfere in Britain’s business. British standards, having been developed and refined over many years, are usually of the highest level therefore it is Mr Griffin’s belief that these decisions should be made by the British Medical Association and other national centres of scientific expertise before being implemented via the British Government in Westminster.

Kind regards

Nicolle Yates

Community Outreach Officer

For Nick Griffin, MEP

Third Reply from Office of Chris Davies MEP, North West Liberal Democrats

Thank you for your email to Chris Davies MEP regarding Electronic Cigarettes and the proposed Tobacco Products Directive. Chris is the UK team leader on the Environment and Public Health Committee so will be discussing this with colleagues regularly, although his Belgian colleague, Frederique Ries MEP, leads on the issue.

Chris is greatly in favour of harm reduction as a principle and it may be the case that e cigarettes help to reduce the numbers of smokers where so many other methods have not had 100% success rates. He thinks it will be necessary to introduce regulations to ensure their safe content but he is opposed to banning them and is not convinced by the European Commission’s proposal to restrict their nicotine content.

Research into the long term effects of vaping is not extensive and so the committee will be commissioning some research from its policy department, and MEPs will wish to hear from stakeholders such as E cigarette manufacturers and public health experts. First hand experience from users of E cigarettes is also welcome.

The Rapporteur (the MEP in charge of guiding the legislation through the Parliament) is Linda McAvan, a Labour MEP, who seems quite keen to crack down hard on health issues so Chris is consulting with her as to what amendments she may accept.

Chris s impression is that a substantial number of MEPs appear to be prejudiced against E cigarettes because they look like cigarettes, and are perhaps overlooking the benefits they may bring to those who are trying to give up smoking.

Your views on flavours would be welcome. Chris doesn t want to encourage the use of flavours that mighty encourage people to use E Cigarettes who are not already smokers, but is going to look at the evidence presented to him on whether this may happen.

He is likely to put down some amendments, although you should know that the process will take a number of months. You can keep up with the proposals and the Parliamentary procedure here.

I hope this email has been informative. Do get in touch if there is anything else you would like clarifying.

Kind regards,

Kat Dadswell Casework Assistant

Office of Chris Davies MEP

North West Liberal Democrats

87a Castle Street


United Kingdom SK3 9AR

Fourth Reply From Jacqueline Foster MEP on behalf of Martin Callanan MEP 16th April 2013

Thank you for your email. I have received many emails from others in the North West who share your views on the proposal by the European Commission to amend current European law affecting electronic inhalers, commonly known as personal vaporizers or e cigarettes.

The Commission proposes to
limit the amount of nicotine in solutions sold for use in electronic cigarettes to four milligrams of nicotine per millilitre, unless the products have been classified as for medicinal use.

I believe this would render the solution too weak to be a viable source of nicotine for smokers or ex smokers, or would require manufacturers to apply for a costly licence to manufacture medicinal products.

E cigarettes offer concentrated nicotine to addicts without the 4000 toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke and removes the risk posed to non smokers, not least children of smokers, by ‘second hand’ smoke. For many people, traditional nicotine replacement therapies offered by the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry have had very limited success in helping smokers quit permanently.

Thousands of British e cigarette users are likely to return smoking if the directive is amended as foreseen and nicotine concentrations are limited to 4mg/ml.

The proposed changes to limit permitted concentrations of nicotine solution sold in the EU are counter productive and will do more harm than good.

Although I am not a member of the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, I know my Conservative colleague Martin Callanan MEP will put forward these arguments and work to convince other MEPs of the foolishness of diluting nicotine solution to the point of uselessness.

Jacqueline Foster MEP
Conservative MEP for the North West of England Conservative Spokesman on Transport & Tourism in the European Parliament

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