Conservative MEPs are taking steps to re-open the debate on “restrictive” new EU rules covering the sale of e-cigarettes.
Gibraltar MEP Julie Girling and Vicky Ford have written to EU Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas asking him to examine the latest evidence on the health effects of vaping and whether it can help long term smokers give up traditional cigarettes.
Last month Public Health England published a review which concluded that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco and the MEPs hope that if Mr Moedas makes a similar finding, the European Commission will look again at the Tobacco Products Directive.
Mrs Girling said: “There is great concern that the new regulations will dissuade smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.”
“There was little scientific input when this part of the directive was drawn up and further evidence has subsequently highlighted the potential public health benefits of e-cigarettes. We believe it is time some facts were introduced into this debate and hope Mr Moedas will agree to our request.”
“This is a great opportunity to use the expertise of the Scientific Advice Mechanism. This is a highly qualified and highly respected group of eminent scientists from across Europe which was put in place largely thanks to Conservative MEP pressure.”
Article 20 of the Directive, which is currently being implemented by Member States, will force e-cigarette manufacturers to either classify their products as cigarettes and face tight rules on advertising, or as medicinal products and sell them only in pharmacies.
It also restricts the amount of nicotine cartridges can contain and introduces burdensome new manufacturing standards.
A legal challenge to the Directive by UK manufacturer Totally Wicked was rejected by the European Court of Justice earlier this month.
Mrs Ford, MEP for Eastern England, said: “The EU restrictions on electronic cigarettes were swept into the new tobacco laws without the chance to take into account expert evidence. Conservative MEPs did not endorse this approach.
“We all received thousands of emails and letters from users who argue that the products have enabled them to give up traditional smoking. The EU commissioner has now appointed a group of scientific experts and it would be useful to hear their advice on whether the restrictions are appropriate.”