In early July, over 1,000 electronic cigarette vapers from all over the European Union signed an open letter to the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety Committee, protesting proposals to amend the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive to include tougher electronic cigarette laws. Just what would these proposals change, and what are these European vapers worried about?
The Facts so Far
The Tobacco Products Directive is a collection of regulatory codes intended to impose stricter constraints on the sales, marketing, and regulation of tobacco products. The new proposals seek to extend these regulations to non-tobacco products which are nevertheless associated with tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, and include a movement to regulate electronic cigarettes as medicinal products, the implications of which are not entirely clear. Other revisions include labeling and packaging, the possible banning of flavor additives, tighter regulation of internet sales, and the tighter tracking of said products.
What are European Vapers Worried About?
The signers of the open letter are concerned that electronic cigarettes will be regulated as medicinal products. It is not entirely clear what this would entail. It may make electronic cigarettes more difficult to obtain for vapers. The signers of the letter prefer the electronic cigarettes to remain regulated as a consumer product, presumably to maintain the availability of e cigarettes in the places where vapers are used to purchasing them.
European vapers are also concerned about a flavor additive ban. Such a ban may eliminate one of the most appealing aspects of electronic cigarettes: their wide variety of flavors that enhance the vaping experience.
Ultimately, what European vapers see in stricter electronic cigarette laws is the strengthening of the tobacco industry, due to the lessened availability of a competing product: the electronic cigarette.
Electronic cigarettes are a highly desirable alternative to regular cigarettes due to several favorable characteristics. Electronic cigarettes satisfy the nicotine cravings of smokers with a cleaner delivery system that does not expose the vaper to tar, tobacco smoke, and numerous harmful chemicals.
Electronic cigarettes also satisfy many of the behavioral aspects of smoking, such as inhaling vapor through the mouth, as well as being able to smoke socially with others. Many smokers try several methods such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum in order to quit smoking and end up going back to cigarettes. However, with electronic cigarettes, many smokers are able to permanently switch over and stop smoking cigarettes for good.
Electronic cigarettes are also more affordable on average, and offer a variety of flavors that enhance the vaping experience. What many European vapers are worried about is that if the revised TPD puts serious constraints on electronic cigarettes as they exist now, there may be a significant amount of smokers that skip electronic cigarettes altogether and continue smoking regular analogs. Needless to say, this could adversely affect millions of lives, and public health would be negatively affected.