Local MEP Chris Davies wins victory for e-cigs

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MEPs have forced reluctant governments to accept that electronic cigarettes should be widely available and regulated as consumer products rather than restricted as pharmaceuticals.

In negotiations, proposals from the European Commission that all electronic cigarettes should be controlled by pharmaceutical legislation were decisively rejected by MEPs.

Governments will now have to propose special legal justifications if they wish electronic cigarettes to be treated differently from conventional tobacco cigarettes.

Health campaigners claim that e-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking related diseases that kill 700,000 people prematurely in Europe each year.

And while they admit that their nicotine content is addictive, they argue that e-cigs should be as available as tobacco cigarettes to encourage smokers to switch their habit to a healthier alternative.

In negotiations with representatives of EU governments, MEPs insisted that the maximum nicotine content of e-cigs available for general sale should be 20mg/ml, a major increase on the 3mg originally proposed by the Commission and above the average routinely used.   The nicotine level agreed is regarded as closely comparable to that derived from smoking conventional cigarettes.

It was agreed that the flavourings that can be used in e-cigs will be specified by national governments rather than specified by EU legislation.

Refillable units, which are widely used at present, will continue to be available but will be subject to a health and safety review by the European Commission. New proposals to guide their use could be introduced in 2016.

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Local Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, a convinced supporter of e-cigs, said that MEPs had achieved a remarkable victory in the face of stiff government opposition.

He said that the restrictions on the sale of e-cigs were unnecessary but a price worth paying to secure agreement across the whole of Europe.   Mr Davies commented: “We have seen a massive turnaround in the approach towards e-cigs and that is very much to be welcomed. These things can save lives because smokers find them pleasurable to use.

“It would be madness to impose so many restrictions that people instead keep buying instead the conventional cigarettes that we know kill in vast numbers.”

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