Smoking rates are rising in the Third World and declining in America, one statistic seems immutable; EU residents have the highest smoking rates and mortality rates in the civilized world. Their solution: ban Swedish Snus, the smokeless product which has kept Sweden’s smoking rate the lowest in Europe; pass a revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), whose Article 20 would place major barriers for smokers seeking to quit by using reduced-harm methods such as e-cigarettes and vapour products; and do absolutely nothing effective against the real problem, lethal addictive cigarettes.
Just this week, after overcoming one hurdle after another, a British marketer of e-liquids, Totally Wicked, presented its case and the case for science-based regulation of nicotine products before the EU Court of Justice (CJEU). The chances of success: slim, given the Byzantine nature of the EU’s regulatory process. But if anything might arouse the ire of the EU Court, the TPD’s Article 20 with its bizarrely anti-science regulations crafted in secret, might be it.
The EU’s 5-year revision process of the TPD has been a nearly unmitigated disaster. Eschewing science-based or even rational policy, a conflicted, unaccountable bunch of commissioners working with zero transparency/accountability, crafted a destructive/corrupt framework for dealing with tobacco. Those devoted to public health, specifically interested in reducing the dreadful toll of smoking, disgusted with this measure foisted on an unsuspecting populace, hoped some entity with credibility/resources would tackle the TPD.
Article 20 of the TPD deals with e-cigarettes and vapor products. The inclusion of e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco, in the TPD is controversial. In the text of the TPD, the EU states that e-cigarettes “can develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and ultimately traditional tobacco consumption, as they mimic and normalize the action of smoking.” However, there is little evidence for this gateway effect. A recent report by Public Health England notes that “very few” non-smokers become regular e-cigarette users. The authors of the report concluded that “The gateway theory is ill-defined and we suggest its use be abandoned.”
Clive Bates formerly director of ASH has described Article 20 as “catalogue of poorly designed, disproportionate and discriminatory measures that will achieve nothing useful but do a great deal of harm.” Given that non-smokers have so far shown little interest in e-cigarettes, critics argue that discouraging vaping amounts to encouraging smoking and that some of the EU’s new regulations will damage health by raising prices and reducing the appeal of products which, if smokers switched to them, would save lives. Read full article
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Gil Ross (02 October 2015) Public Health vs EU’s Tobacco Product Directive: The Battle is Joined [business editorial]. Retrieved from http://ow.ly/SY04T