Lawyers for a British vaping company have appeared before judges at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to challenge new European Union (EU) regulations on e-cigarettes. The manufacturers argue that the new rules, due to be introduced next year, are “disproportionate and inappropriate,” and have the potential to adversely affect the health of millions of smokers.
Despite not containing any tobacco, e-cigarettes, which are used for ‘vaping’ nicotine (the products vaporise a liquid for the smoker, or ‘vaper’ to inhale), will be subject to draconian legislation in the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), due to come into force across all member states next year.
Totally Wicked, an e-cigarette manufacturing business based in Blackburn, Lancashire and employing over 100 people yesterday challenged the legality of the legislation, which Britain must introduce next year or face large fines from Brussels.
Fraser Cropper, the company’s managing director, has called the challenge the culmination of a “battle between those who recognise the public health potential vaping offers … and those who either do not understand vaping, or see it as a threat to established interests and therefore wish to see e-cigarettes subjected to a disproportionate and inappropriate regulatory regime”.
Totally Wicked’s challenge is based on its view that Article 20 of the TPD represents a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provision of services, places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products, fails to comply with the general EU principle of equality, and breaches the fundamental rights of electronic cigarette manufacturers.
The member states against us are UK, France and Spain. plus commission, council and parliament.
— Totally Wicked_UK (@Mr_Wicked) October 1, 2015
Their challenge has gained widespread support from smokers and non-smokers alike. For some, it’s a question of freedom for business to innovate and trade; for others it’s the potential health benefits. Vaping is around 95 per cent less harmful – and 40 per cent cheaper – than traditional cigarette smoking, according to a recent study conducted by Public Health England, and funded by the Department of Health.
On Tuesday, industry representatives and a number of vapers presented a petition at Downing Street signed by 71,000 supporters of Totally Wicked’s bid. Addressed to Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, told Mr Hunt that “Like Totally Wicked, we believe that the TPD is likely to adversely impact the availability of good quality electronic cigarettes and e-liquids, and jeopardise the life-changing potential of e-cigarettes, resulting in a major detrimental impact on the public health of millions of people across the EU.”
They also agreed that “Article 20 of the TPD represents a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provision of services, places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products, fails to comply with the general EU principle of equality, and breaches the fundamental rights of electronic cigarette manufacturers.”
Despite the potential for saving lives, Brussels bureaucrats have loaded new rules on to the manufacturers of e-cigarettes which are orders of magnitude more restrictive than those which apply to tobacco products.
For example, from next spring, tobacco companies will have to submit emissions test results for just three of the 4,000 chemical compounds in cigarettes. Although almost all of the constituent chemicals are toxic to some degree, only data for tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine are required.
By contrast, manufacturers of e-cigarettes will be forced to list “all ingredients contained in, and emissions resulting from the use of, the product, by brand name and type,” including toxicological data, despite the fact that they are far less toxic than those contained in tobacco cigarettes.
New e-cigarette products cannot be legally released onto the market until six months after a notice of intention to sell has been filed, allowing knock-off brands to a 26 week head start on cornering the market, and most advertising will be banned.
But perhaps of gravest concern to smokers looking to e-cigarettes as a way to kick the habit, vaping liquids with more than 20 milligrams of nicotine per millilitre will be banned entirely, yet these are the very products which heavy smokers require to wean them off tobacco cigarettes.
The legislation “will certainly slow vaping’s advance at the expense of smoking — ie, cost lives,” according to the author Matt Ridley.
He added: “As the Volkswagen scandal has beautifully demonstrated, in the EU we are governed by unelected regulators who are immune to democratic recall, captive chums of the very industries they regulate and tools of the great pressure groups that infest the corridors of the Berlaymont.”