Local Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies today won a major victory for users of e-cigs when the European Parliament backed his call for e-cigs to be available for sale on the same basis as tobacco. MEPs rejected plans for them to be treated as medicines, increasing their cost and reducing their availability in many countries.
Chris won support for his demand that e-cigs meet product safety standards and for restrictions on their advertising and marketing, but he insisted they had a major role to play in reducing tobacco-related deaths.
He said: “E-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked.
“They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes.
“Every year 700,000 people in Europe die of smoking-related disease and we should do nothing that makes e-cigs harder to obtain than tobacco cigarettes.”
The European Parliament decision on e-cigs was opposed by Labour MEPs but supported by Liberal Democrat, Conservative and UKIP members. It puts the Parliament in conflict with the governments of Britain and a majority of EU countries.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to all British MEPs last week urging them to back medicinal regulation for e-cigs.
Attempts must now be made to find a compromise between the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.
Chris Davies called for ministers to think afresh about their attitude: “E-cigs are a new product so it’s not surprising that many politicians have still not realised how big a role they could play in reducing the use of tobacco.”