Up in a puff of smoke? EU plan threatens e-cigarettes

Anti-smoking groups angry at new directive which could price devices out of market

Anti-smoking campaigners have reacted with dismay at the prospect of electronic cigarettes, the devices that help smokers avoid the lethal effects of tobacco, being banned under a proposed change to European Union law.

A review of the EU Tobacco Products Directive currently under way includes a proposed new regulation which would require any device containing more than 4mgs of nicotine to be authorised as a medicinal product.

E-cigarettes look and feel like real cigarettes and are designed to mimic the experience of smoking without the harmful consequences. They heat nicotine to deliver an inhaled mist which reproduces some of the effects of smoking minus the cancer-causing chemicals produced by burning tobacco.

To gain authorisation under the new regime, e-cigarettes would have to undergo expensive clinical trials – rendering them commercially non-viable and effectively banning them.

Amanda Sandford, a spokesperson for Ash, the anti-smoking charity, said: "For the EU to treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products muddies the waters and causes confusion. It would be far better to treat them on a par with nicotine replacement products which are available over the counter through pharmacies and newsagents."

Campaigners say "light touch" controls would ensure e-cigarettes are safe and effective but allow them to be sold in newsagents and supermarkets alongside cigarettes. Ms Sandford added that they should not "have to go through umpteen clinical trials".

The EU's review of the Tobacco Products Directive is aimed at making smoking in all its forms less attractive to young people in order to discourage them from taking it up.

But the Royal College of Physicians has previously called for the devices to be made more widely available, arguing smokers should be moved on to safer substitutes such as e-cigarettes to supplement therapeutic approaches using nicotine patches and gum.

The Cabinet Office's behavioural insight team has also backed the devices. "If alternative and safe nicotine products can be developed which are attractive enough to lure people away from traditional cigarettes, they could have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives a year," it said in 2011.

But the move has also angered manufacturers, who claim they have never promoted the products' anti-smoking qualities. "We are not selling a medicinal product; we don't present e-cigarettes as having health benefits and they are not functionally a medicine. They are designed as an alternative to cigarettes," said Charles Hamshaw-Thomas, director of legal affairs at the E-Lites brand of electronic cigarettes. "Limitations on the wider availability of e-cigarettes will give cigarette companies an unfair advantage and perversely protect their existing markets."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Manager - Franchised Dealership

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative / Forklift Driver

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Through a combination of excell...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Service Plan Champion

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Service Plan Champi...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific