EU to lightly regulate sales of e-cigarettes

9 Oct 2013

The EU Parliament has passed a new draft law that will make tobacco products less attractive to young people, with packs carrying a health warning covering 65pc of their surface. Electronic cigarettes are only to be regulated as medicinal products if they claim to have curative or preventative properties.

Under the new law, fruit and menthol cigarettes and small packs of cigarettes are to be banned. Cigarettes are blamed with causing 70,000 deaths per year in the EU.

E-cigarettes, a pretty recent invention, will not be subject to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventative properties.

Those for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, should carry health warnings and should not be sold to anyone under 18 years old.

Manufacturers and importers would also have to supply the competent authorities with a list of all the ingredients that they contain. Finally, e-cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.

“We know that it is children, not adults, who start smoking,” said rapporteur Linda McAvan.

“And despite the downward trend in most member states of adult smokers, the World Health Organization figures show worrying upward trends in a number of our member states of young smokers.

“We need to stop tobacco companies targeting young people with an array of gimmicky products and we need to make sure that cigarette packs carry effective warnings. In Canada, large pictorial warnings were introduced in 2001 and youth smoking halved,” she added.

McAvan was granted a mandate to negotiate a first-reading agreement with EU ministers. This mandate was approved by 620 votes to 43, with 14 abstentions.

Once the legislation is approved by the council and Parliament, EU member states will have 18 months in which to translate the directive into their national laws, to run from the date when it enters into force.

E-cigarette image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years