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Lib Dem victory ensures Electronic cigarettes remain readily available

October 8, 2013 2:30 PM
By Bill Newton Dunn MEP, Sharon Bowles MEP, Catherine Bearder MEP and Mary Reid.
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat MEPs have won a major victory for e-cigarette users in the European Parliament. A majority of MEPs backed a Lib Dem amendment which will ensure that electronic cigarettes are available for sale on the same basis as tobacco.


MEPs in the European Parliament have voted on the EU's Tobacco Products Directive, key proposals of which include larger health warnings on packaging and a ban on menthols and slim cigarettes.

Lib Dem MEPs had been campaigning against one proposal, backed by Labour and Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, to apply medical regulations to electronic cigarettes.

E-cigarettes work by vaporising nicotine that is then inhaled, providing nicotine addicts with their 'hit' without many of the carcinogens and second-hand smoke produced by conventional cigarettes.

The original proposal from the Commission was that electronic cigarettes should be treated as medicines, which would have restricted sales. But the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE, the Group to which UK Lib Dem MEPs belong) argued that they had a major role to play in reducing tobacco-related deaths.

The European Parliament rejected the Commission proposal to apply medical regulations to electronic cigarettes. Instead they adopted an amendment from the ALDE Group which stated that e-cigarettes must 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, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Commenting on the vote, Lib Dem MEP for the South East Sharon Bowles said:

"I am delighted by the outcome of today's vote in the European Parliament. Medical regulation would have significantly reduced the availability of e-cigarettes for those wishing to quit smoking tobacco.

"In an ideal world people would not smoke. However, I have been contacted by hundreds of constituents who have had their lives significantly improved by e-cigarettes.

"I am pleased that an alternative to carcinogenic tobacco will continue to be widely available, especially when vapour products have the potential to save millions of lives."

Lib Dem MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder added:

"E-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that 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.

"Every year 700,000 people in Europe die of smoking-related disease. We should not do anything that makes e-cigs harder to obtain than tobacco cigarettes."