by Joe Dunne
The recent TV3 midweek feature (Jan 8th) on e-cigarettes and vaping in Ireland has highlighted that there is a need to clarify what is happening with e-cigarette legislation by the E.U. and Irish Government.
E-Cigarettes: The European Union
The Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC) governs the manufacture, sale and presentation of tobacco and tobacco products in the member states of the European Union. While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they are still legislated for under this directive because they have no other current codification.
In October 2013 Members of the European Parliament voted to reject the proposal to amend the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) by adding that e-cigarettes should be classed as medicinal products. Fortunately, they found that e-cigarettes could not be classed as medicinal products as they do not claim to aid in the cessation of smoking. By classifying e-cigarettes as medicinal products the e-cigarettes and their vendors would be subject to much larger restrictions and costs.
It was also decided that no restrictions would be placed on the flavoured e-liquids which play a big part in helping smokers to switch to vaping. Flavoured cigarettes, including menthol cigarettes will be phased out from 2016 and are due to be completely banned in Ireland by 2020.
The E.U. under the TPD has therefore classed most e-cigarettes as consumer products which are generally governed under the General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC. This is a complementary directive, which means that member states can add their own legislation in relation to e-cigarettes. The Department of Health hopes to clarify the regulations around e-cigarettes in Ireland this year.
E-cigarettes are also regulated under a number of other directives and pieces of legislation that cover consumer products in the E.U. These include but are not limited to: Electrical safety, Chemical Safety and Commercial Practice. Although not fully regulated in Ireland, they are stringently regulated in Europe.
E-Cigarettes: What’s in them?
So what exactly is in VIP e-cigarettes? The ingredients are: Water, nicotine, propylene glycol and flavouring ingredients. The ingredients are of pharmaceutical and food grade and supplied by a top 10 world leading manufacturer of flavours and fragrances. Manufacturing is CE certified and RoHs Compliant and conforms to ISO:9001 Quality Management Standards.
However, in relation to the TPD, the agreement reached on December 18th 2013 between the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament means that in 2016, after the TPD is implemented, if three member states agree to ban e-cigarettes on health grounds, the European Commission can apply a ban in all Member States (provided it agrees that the ban is justified).
E-Cigarettes: The Campaign
This is unfortunate news for the e-cigarette industry and the growing number of vapers in Ireland. It is unfair that e-cigarettes are being regulated against without appropriate studies and research having taken place. One Irish MEP campaigning against restrictive regulation of e-cigarettes is Liam Aylward. Liam is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the European political group that was instrumental in rejecting the proposal that e-cigarettes be classed as medicinal products.
In Britain, MEP Chris Davies has also campaigned vigorously to prevent the E.U. from applying further unnecessary restrictions to the smoking substitute that some have hailed as the answer to giving up cigarettes for good. A recent French survey on smokers showed that after using e-cigarettes for a year, 46% had quit smoking.
What we hope is that our politicians are able to see the bigger picture in regards to the dangers of smoking and the number of deaths that are caused every year by smoking related illnesses. We need to get behind our politicians and start campaigning for better rights for vapers in Ireland.