Menthol and other flavours will be banned, but there is to be no ban on packs of slim cigarettes.

Some campaigners had called for e cigarettes to be subjected to the same regulation as nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and gum.

E cigarettes consist of a battery, a cartridge containing nicotine, a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine mixed with water, and an atomiser to turn the solution into a vapour.

While nicotine is the addictive substance that keeps smokers hooked, Cancer Research UK says it is the toxic cocktail of chemicals in tobacco smoke that kills half of all long term smokers.

The lack of tobacco in e cigarettes means they are “almost certainly” a much safer way of getting a nicotine hit than smoking cigarettes, it says.

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies said after the vote “E cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked.

“They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes. We should not do anything that makes e cigs harder to obtain than tobacco cigarettes.”

Adrian Everett, chief executive of e cigarette brand E Lites, said “This is a fantastic result for public health and the millions of smokers around Europe who are switching to e cigarettes.”

The Scottish Government has already announced plans to introduce plain packaging as part of its strategy to create a smoke free country in 20 years.

Eu approves law to regulate e-cigarettes – indian express

Cheap cigarettes

European Union diplomats approved new anti tobacco legislation on Wednesday, including larger health warnings on cigarette packets and the bloc’s first ever rules on electronic cigarettes.

“Agreement on the tobacco directive is a big step towards a healthier and more prosperous society,” said Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, health minister of Lithuania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

The deal was struck after governments and the European Parliament resolved a dispute over how tightly to regulate the booming market for e cigarettes, which some analysts predict will eclipse the $700 billion a year regular cigarette market in 10 years.

Under the agreement, most e cigarettes will be sold as consumer products rather than as more tightly regulated medical devices, as governments had initially wanted.

But while popular refillable e cigarettes will be allowed, the European Commission could impose an EU wide ban in future if three or more member states prohibit them on health grounds.

From 2016 when the rules changes will take effect, cigarettes, rolling tobacco and other products will have to carry graphic picture and text warnings covering 65% of the front and back of packets.

The rules also include a ban on smoking tobacco products containing flavours like fruit or vanilla. Menthol cigarettes will be banned four years later, after some governments demanded a slower phase out.