On Tuesday, 8th October, the European Parliament rejected a vote on proposals to class ecigs and eliquid as medical devices and medicinal products. While this is is a huge victory for proponents of e-cigarettes, there is a degree of uncertainty as to precisely how this will affect EU vapers.
Amendment 170 passed, if enacted into law it would effectively bring e-cigarettes under the regulatory umbrella of consumer products, while drawing on certain elements of tobacco product regulation. While not entirely ideal to have any association with tobacco. It’s clearly the lesser of two evils as far as European vapers are concerned.
Some key points to note include a new upper limit of 30mg nicotine strength eliquids, anything above will require a medical retail license. Proposals to ban flavorings in ecigs were sensibly rejected.
Along with more stringent labeling requirements for nicotine products (eliquid), manufacturers will also be required to submit a complete list of their ingredients to the relevant authorities. New regulation on age restrictions will also apply. Ecig brands and vendors will also be subject to the same advertising standards as tobacco.
All of this is basically common sense to a certain degree, while there is still a valid argument to make against tobacco regulation for ecigs, for now I’m simply content they’ll remain freely available on the market.
One key area where vapers should be concerned is on the question of taxation. The question of taxation is a sovereign matter for each member state, the EU simply provides guidelines. So how is this going to affect online orders from international or European based vendors?
The answers to such questions are still somewhat uncertain, and we won’t have a definitive picture until each EU State adopts its own e-cig taxation policy. There is a growing concern among vapers that some EU States will seek to recuperate lost revenue from tobacco sales. They could feasibly apply the same rates on ecigs as tobacco.
Governments need to realize that the current disparity between the costs of smoking vs vaping must remain relatively intact. If they apply the same tax rates as tobacco, they would risk making vaping less appealing to smokers. Most smokers switch to vaping primarily for the benefit of their health, but the added incentive of financial savings should not be underestimated. It’s a powerful motivator, particularly in the current economic climate. It would be counter-intuitive to public health to tax ecigs to the same extent as tobacco.
When you read articles like this from very highly regarded authors, it does not fill one with confidence that sensible policies and strategies will be adopted. These are the kind of battles that lie in wait over the coming months for vapers in the European Union. The successful campaign to avoid medical regulation is just one of many more campaigns that lie in wait.