Today, on the steps of the European Parliament, I along with colleagues received a hefty petition on behalf of the seven million electronic cigarette users in the UK and the many more in the EU. The petition is objecting to proposed legislation concerning e-cigarettes.
As one of the first MEPs to highlight and attack the proposed legislation I was heartened to see many of my colleagues attending this, now understanding how disastrous this proposal would be.
I then attended a round table briefing and discussion. I made the point that a Estonian, Dutch, German courts along with the US Court of Appeal had all ruled that e-cigarettes do not fall under medicinal-products legislation. That it would be wholly wrong for the EU to try and classify them as a medicine thereby defacto banning the `É-Cigs´ due to the prohibitive cost of medical testing.
I will be speaking on this matter in the EU Chamber, Strasbourg next Monday evening.
These are credited with effectively helping many people to give up smoking.
However, there are moves afoot to re-categorise e-cigs as medicinal products.
Under EU law, this would mean extensive and extremely expensive testing that would be unaffordable to what is currently a small sector. It would put manufacturers out of business as they simply could not afford to have their products tested in this way.
There is much speculation of who is behind this proposal, with the tobacco lobby attracting suspicion. The EU, which never misses a chance to introduce new legislation, is struggling with a new 'tobacco directive', and wants to include e-cigs, making the directive even wider ranging.
Whatever, e-cigs are helping many people, and are a new and innovative way of cutting out an unhealthy habit. The sector needs to be nurtured, and not strangled at birth by unaffordable legislative requirements.
The proposed tobacco directive is up for discussion in Strasbourg next week, with MEPs likely to vote on it in October. I will vote against the move to re-categorise e-cigs, and to protect this new and innovative product that promises to help so many people, and which is providing jobs in the West Midlands.
This story has also been featured in the West Midlands press:
You'll also be able to hear me talk about the proposed EU E-Cig Ban on BBC Hereford and Worcesters News bulletin.