Rebecca Taylor MEP writes…Can you help me campaign against e-cigs being regulated as medicines?

The EU is currently deciding how best to regulate e-cigarettes. Opinion is divided, with many public health organisations and most national governments – including the UK – pushing for the regulation of e-cigarettes as medicinal products, while consumers, manufacturers, along with some doctors and public health experts asking for a less stringent approach.

The European Parliament also voted against medicines regulation, adopting instead a Liberal amendment drafted by Frédérique Ries, myself and Chris Davies which aims to guarantee essential safeguards without resorting to medicines licensing.

E-cigarettes are a new and increasingly popular product used almost entirely by existing or former smokers (see this ASH study). Already almost 1.3 million people in the UK are using them. They make use of a flavoured nicotine liquid that is heated to produce a vapour. This is then inhaled by the users who get their nicotine in a similar way to conventional cigarettes, but without all the cancer causing substances found in tobacco.

Anti-smoking campaigners believe that e-cigarettes can be a game changer in the fight against tobacco. Their huge advantage over nicotine replacement therapies like gum or patches is that they not only provide the smoker with the nicotine they crave, but their use is enjoyable in a way gum and patches are not.

Medicines regulation would be disastrous for e-cigarette users. It would force up costs, limit product choice and restrict availability. Chris Davies MEP, I and other colleagues in the Liberal Group (ALDE) have been at the forefront of the fight to save e-cigarettes in the Parliament, but now the fight is only partially in our hands.

The regulation of e-cigarettes is just one aspect of the revision of the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), currently being discussed in Brussels. The negotiations are at an advanced stage and may be concluded within the next fortnight. The strongest divide is over e-cigarettes – which many would argue should never have been included within the legislation as they contain no tobacco.

As we are reaching a crucial stage in these negotiations, Lib Dem MEPs are calling for support from Lib Dem members and colleagues in Westminster for a change in the UK’s negotiating position on e-cigs. The decision to back medicines regulation was not a Lib Dem led initiative at the Department of Health, and there appears to have been no consultation with Lib Dem MPs at any stage in the process.

As a public health advocate, I believe certain restrictions should apply to e-cigarettes in the way they do to normal cigarettes –sales to minors and constraints on advertising for a start.

Nevertheless, through the medium of buzzfeed I have outlined 8 clear and simple reasons why e-cigarettes should not be regulated as medicines. I urge readers to share this link far and wide: it is crucial that as many people as possible, especially decision makers in Westminster, understand the severe consequences of regulating these products as medicines.

* Rebecca Taylor is a member of Islington LibDems and the former MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.

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55 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Nov '13 - 2:37pm

    Rebecca, I was attracted by the honest title, read the article and the buzz feed and I thought about sharing, but I don’t have enough information to be able to make a decision on this. I would need to hear more about why people want to regulate them as medicines before I had the confidence to campaign against this.

    As a rule of thumb, I’m generally not a fan of what I call “arms race” campaigning by politicians. I think this should be left to the lobby groups and the industry themselves.

    Thanks

  • Eddie Sammon, the argument for regulation as a medical product is because they are smoking cessation devices, similar to patches or gum. Regulation would allow restrictions on sale, and control of doses for what is one of the most addictive substances ever discovered by man. It would also prevent tobacco companies for using them as a vector to encourage smoking.

  • The problem here is that nicotine is both highly addictive and has harmful effects on the cardiovascular system and therefore something whose distribution should be controlled. Were it not that tobacco is widely available, I doubt there would be any question of allowing sale of nicotine.

    The sale of e-cigarettes depends on people already becoming addicted to tobacco, there is clearly a danger that addiction to e-cigarettes could bypass tobacco smoking altogether, not only that, the tobacco companies could see e-cigarettes as key to continued prosperity at the expense of widespread addiction.

  • Alan Fletcher 30th Nov '13 - 8:45pm

    @ Eddie
    Why should they be regulated as medicial products when the much more dangerous tobacco cigarette is not? Manufacturers of e-cigarettes do not make any health claims as they are seen as a less dangerous alternative to smoking and not as a smoking cessation aid. The medicinal approach came from the Big Tobacco and Big Pharma lobbies. Pharma recognises the great potential of e-cigs being used instead of the NRT products (nicotine gum, patches etc.) and the likely loss of revenue because e-cigs are currently manufactured by many independent small and medium companies throughout Europe and to a much lesser degree and only relatively recently, by the tobacco industry.

    @ Martin
    It has never been proven that nicotine by itself is highly addictive. Various research projects have in fact prooved quite the opposite. Only in combination with other substances added to tobacco does it become highly addictive. According to a recent study by Dr. Kostantinos Farsalinos at the Heart Centre in Athens, e-cigs with the nicotine levels generally used have no effect worth mentioning on the cardiovascular system. Quite a few suveys to date have never found any non-smoker who regularly uses e-cigs.

  • Paul mcsorley 1st Dec '13 - 12:22am

    I was a smoker for well over 20 years, I’ve tried every type of quit smoking aid, I can categorically say electronic cigarettes are the best way to give up smoking, the scaremongering going on and the so called concerned citizens who have no clue and have not so much as read half of the articles, papers or research done on electric cigarettes is ridiculous, personally I have had no ill effects in 4 years of using them!

    Rebecca if you would like anything like a testimonial or just to talk through the use or effects of these let me know and I will gladly make myself available

  • Isn’t there a danger that, if e-cigarettes are readily available, would-be ex-smokers might switch to e-cigarettes instead of quitting?

  • This is a good outline of some of the issues. However we need to remember that this does STOP SMOKING. Vaping is NOT smoking nor the same as smoking. I a smoker for 40 years, have tried everything available and only e-cigs have allowed me to say I AM NOW A NON SMOKER. Ban and regulate ecigs too much and I can only see the return to the evil weed. Results prove that this is the far safer than smoking. So would the EU like to condemn millions of potential quitters to an early death by removing this option. A ban will drive supply underground and make a black market that does not exist.Dont let the big money boys PM, BAT drive the ban. They have killed enough people already. And still say smoking is safe!

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Dec '13 - 1:35am

    I see this debate rouses a lot of passions.

    g, I’m not against regulation, I’d just want to be sure that it wasn’t excessive.

    Alan Fletcher, the way I see it these e cigarettes are part medicinal and part recreational. Of course they should be regulated less than regular cigarettes, but I think some light regulation could get prevent people being misled on the dangers of nicotine.

    I’d be in favour of light touch regulation on these things. I fully understand the costs of regulation on small businesses, but we need to protect people and we could even help the industry by preventing unscrupulous competitors entering the market.

  • Gram Larchley 1st Dec '13 - 1:46am

    Nicotine itself is about as harmful as caffeine. It is present in a lot of vegetables, aubergine has a particularly high content. Tobacco is harmful when burnt but nicotine isn’t the source of harm. I am an ex smoker, I am addicted to nicotine and the method of delivery that cigarettes provides. I no longer smoke, I vape and my health/wellbeing reflects that. If Personal Vaporisers (e-cigs in common terms) were to be regulated as medicines then it would increase the likelihood of me returning to tobacco simply because the experience would be dulled and unsatisfying.. As someone else pointed out, I don’t need medicine, I’m not ill so why treat vaping as medicine ? Follow that logic and all coffee shops would have to sell MHRA approved drinks as would all pubs.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Dec '13 - 2:23am

    Stuff it, I’m coming out against regulating e-cigarettes as medicines. I believe in light touch regulation, as unpopular as that term has become, and this wouldn’t be light touch.

    People are concerned about increasing addiction, but the way I look at it is that you can’t un-invent things and we don’t want to play into the hands of illegal providers and criminal gangs.

    The way I also look at it is this market needs to be expanded, not held back – far too many people smoke tobacco at the moment (in my opinion).

    I would share the news, but I don’t want to bombard my facebook with politics too much. If I become more passionate against it then I’ll spread the word, so my advice would be to keep on talking!

  • Eddie Sammon, your views are terrifying. Why would you want to increase the numbers of people addicted to nicotine? Why would you want ‘light touch’ regulation for an extremely addictive drug whose main method of ingestion is extremely toxic?

  • i was a smoker of 22 years until 8 weeks ago when i bought my first ecig i havent smoked since. You’ll just have to take my word for it when i say i have never felt better. I am using the different nicotine levels availible in e liquids to gently wean myself off nicotine all together. The different flavours availible is also making it that little bit easier.
    Please do all u can can to stop this licence happening, yes it needs certain regulations, selling to minors, and take them off their brightly coloured stands in shops.
    It feels like we are being punished for wanting to stop smoking and if my flavoured juices were taken away id resort back to cigs

  • John Yewdall 1st Dec '13 - 11:43am

    Smoking tobacco is addictive. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine so nicotine is addictive – wrong!! Both the WHO and the NHS say nicotine is not addictive – it is the chemical soup in tobacco smoke that is addictive. Both the WHO and NHS say it is safe to absorb nicotine through the skin from patches for the rest of our lives but god help you if you want to absorb the same nicotine through the lining of your mouth.

  • I’m glad this discussion is taking place as more people are having their eyes opened to the fact that both the free market and democracy as we know it are a complete sham, empty words we think have meaning beyond their placebo effect on the masses. MEPs have already voted on this matter yet Lithuania is forcing the issue as a result, in my opinion, of lobbying from the tobacco industry, who in turn are lobbying along with the pharmaceutical industry against ‘ecigs’ as they are a threat to their business. Smoking is big business, smoking cessation is big business and smoking related disease is probably the biggest business of all. So, when faced with the prospect of losing revenue big business is reverting to type and subverting the democratic process and what we laughingly refer to as freedom.

    I was a smoker for years, I am addicted to nicotine, I’ve gone cold turkey, I’ve used gum and lozenges, again, for years, but have never lost the urge to smoke and have always returned to cigarettes, ask any vaper and they will tell you the same story, the only thing that has kept us off cigarettes is vaping. An argument put forward is that vaping will be a gateway to smoking real cigarettes, if that was the case we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all as the tobacco industry would be rubbing its hands with glee at the prospect of more potential smokers lining up to give them money and die of cancer. The only way vaping is going to lead to more smoking is if it is banned or regulated beyond useful.

    If you want to talk about regulation and banning ecigs and personal vaping devices without the exact same bans on tobacco then the emperor has no clothes and your lies and hypocrisy are laid bare for the world.

    If you want to talk about addictive substances I challenge you to stop drinking alcohol. Whilst on the subject of alcohol if you’d like to sugest that eliquids come in flavours that might appeal to children, then what about being able to buy Jack Daniels and Coke in pre-mixed cans, what about Whiskey and Lemonade, Alcopops and WKD? The list is almost as long as the flavours eliquid comes in.

    Ecigs should be no more regulated than ‘real’ tobacco products. They are not a medicine, they are a replacement. If it weren’t for the lobbying from the tobacco industry and pharmaceutical industry we would not even be having a discussion. If the forces of the free market were allowed to function, and trust me I’m no fan of the so called free market, then ecigs and vaping would more than likely put an end to cigarettes and NRT, along with a great deal of smoking related disease treatments.

  • I swopped from normal cigs to vaping as it is healthier THAN smoking tobacco, this is in fact proven. I have been vaping for a year and 4 months and only had 4 cigs in that time, the last being 6 months ago. I can taste, smell and my breathing is very much improved.
    As I am an adult I see as it is my choice whether to intake nicotine and to not be dictated to as regards giving up my enjoyment. I see vaping as akin to say having a cup of coffee or say even a glass of beer.
    I do not see them banning alcohol and this causes more problems and burden than vaping does.
    The devices and juice are already regulated under trading standards and have been for years so why are they now looking at vaping/ecigs?
    Well let me tell you. Big Pharma stands to lose out for one as they supply NRT and also the drugs to treat smokers, BIG Tobacco as well for there will be less smokers and finally the GOV for the loss of revenue from smoking. If the GOV wanted to make the money back from losing revenue from smoking and people swopping to vaping then why not just drop the NRT program and one would offset the other as vaping over smoking would be less time for people on the sick and so the GOV paying sick pay and hospital beds being taken up.
    I think last estimate there was 1.6million vapers in the UK alone. This is a massive amount of vapers/voters and it is growing daily and thanks to the likes of the internet and forums the word is now spreading .
    Where I work I would say that approx 50% of the people now vape and not smoke.

  • Barbara Grizzell 1st Dec '13 - 1:45pm

    Here, here Mik except that I don’t think this should open a gateway for yet another tax stream for the govt. Enough is enough.
    Vaping has kept me off ciggies for over 3 years with no lapse. Although I agree about the nicotine issue being overstated, I have cut my intake by 50% over the course of a year because I don’t like any form of dependence. This has been done of my own free will by mixing my own juice and reducing the nicotine content by a fraction each time.
    The vaping community as it stands provides a huge support group to help keep people off the ciggies; I think this is a large part of it’s success. Why can’t the govt leave a good thing alone?

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Dec '13 - 2:21pm

    g, I admit I try to wean myself away from my sometimes libertarian views, so I’m not a light touch zealot, I’m just pretty confused and need to work on greater consistency in my opinions!

    On another point: where have all these die hard nicotine and tobacco commenters come from? This is Lib Dem Voice, not Propaganda Voice.

  • @Eddie, perhaps a quick read of the title will answer your question?

  • An interesting debate but let me highlight some facts as opposed to propaganda. Firstly using e-cigs is not smoking. Legally smoking requires the burning or combustion of tobacco – e-cigs do neither. They generate vapour similar to what you experience in discos or the theatre with smoke machines. Secondly everyone talks about nicotine and it’s addictive properties, but no one bats an eye lid when the pharmaceutical companies are permitted to allow children as young as 12 to use their “nicotine” products such as NRT patches and gums which are erroneously classified as medicines, when they actually cure nothing. For the past 30 years smokers have been “sold” the idea that NRT is the answer to their smoking problem, yet despite 4 million UK smokers using government funded Stop Smoking Schemes over the past 5 years where NRT is predominately used adult smoking prevalence has remained static at 20%. How any product can be classified as a medicine when it actually only works for 7 people out of every 100 that use it is beyond me. Most NHS/Stop Smoking Services statistics base their figures and supposed success on 4 week abstinence or in other words they stopped smoking whilst they were replacing their nicotine, but as soon as the smoker had a choice between NRT or tobacco the majority revert back to smoking, Users of e-cigs find that vaping provides a similar experience to smoking tobacco but without the dangers of burning and inhaling tobacco smoke. 70% of the population have never smoked, yet users of e-cigs who are realistically the only people actually qualified to understand e-cigarettes and why they are so successful as an alternative to tobacco smoking are simply being ignored by politicians.. They work and will continue to improve and work as providing a safer alternative to smoking as long as the reasons why 2M UK ex smokers now use them is not crucified by unnecessary EU legislation which has one simple objective – to ensure that the Pharmaceutical companies, Tobacco companies and Governments who one mustn’t forget profit more from tobacco taxation than the profits generated by tobacco companies do not suffer financially.

    The crucial aspects of e-cigarettes to smokers are that they are 1) not a medical product, but a consumer product of choice 2) That they are allowed to have safe nicotine content levels that keep them effective 3) That they are allowed to have various flavours to sustain variety and interest so that smokers refrain from reverting back to tobacco. The proposed EU legislation is attempting to curb and restrict the very reasons why e-cigs have become so popular over the past 3-4 years.

    The emergence of E-cigarettes has trod on too many big business toes that wield enormous political influence and this is why legislation is being attempted to be introduced that has no bearing on public health, but is concerned primarily with the profits generated by tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies and another industry that serves to perpetuate the existing status quo namely Tobacco control, as e-cigs threaten their own cosy existence too.

  • Adam Williams 1st Dec '13 - 2:42pm

    Eddie. There are over 1,500,000 Vapers in this country alone, far greater world wide, while nicotine is considered an addictive substance, it has shared a bed with the far more harmful substances that derive from the burning of tobacco. It’s this unfortunate link that brings the stigma of the ‘opinion’ (Not born out of science) that nicotine is bad for you.
    There is a huge industry, the Pharmaceutical companies, that stand to lose £billions. There is no money in a healthy population, dare I say it but even the associated ‘caring’ jobs are at risk here, so, we have outspoken anti views against EC’s. For them to back them, would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
    There is no logical reason to decimate electronic cigarettes until you follow the money.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Dec '13 - 2:51pm

    Mik, I welcome all genuine new or one off commenters, it is just when people use names such as “Yahoo2u2” and they never usually comment, it makes me think they could just be spammers. Never mind.

  • Eddie asked ”On another point: where have all these die hard nicotine and tobacco commenters come from? This is Lib Dem Voice, not Propaganda Voice.”
    These voices are the voices of the people whos lives have been transformed by e-cigarettes, The voices of voters who appoint politicians to represent their interests. There are millions of e-cigarette users and their views are vital to any legislation passed in regard e-cigarettes. No vaper wishes dangerous products on the market and no body is asking for unregulated products . They want proportionate and appropriate regulation of the products they use. Medical regulation of a non medical product will destroy that product. E-cigarettes are an alternative to tobacco not a medicine , they do not treat or cure any illness but provide a safer and enjoyable way of using nicotine. As long as tobacco cigarettes are on sale with minimum non medical restriction any move to impose far stricter regulations on e-cigarettes and safer nicotine use is blatantly hypocritical and makes a mockery of the notion that it is the best interest of the consumer . Medical regulation would only be in the interest of the Tobacco and Pharmaceutical industries.

    I have been using e-cigs exclusively for 3 years , my health has improved not deteriorated .

    Appropriate and proportionate regulation of e-cigs is not medical regulation.

  • Lynne James 1st Dec '13 - 3:26pm

    Just two points. Often ecigs are criticised as being a “gateway” to smoking. They are a “gateway” but out of smoking. Secondly there is an increasing number of vapers approx 1.5 million in uk. There are others who directly benefit from every vaper- family friends who do not have to see their loved ones choose a killer. All these people are voters who feel passionate about this issue and are very well appreciative of political support.

  • 80% of vapers have said they will change their vote to protect their e cigs and their health. Why would any politician who really cares about peoples health, restrict e cigs whilst allowing tobacco to be sold freely?

    Vapers know that classing them as medicines will make them as ineffective as NRTs and force them back to smoking. If e cigs are allowed to flourish, they may eventually overtake smoking. Millions of people have switched across the EU. What’s not to like.

  • Luc Van Daele 1st Dec '13 - 4:00pm

    Rebecca, keep up the good work. We started a new petition in support of the Ries amendment that already has gathered 10 000 signatures in two days and a half. The commission and mostly the council have now after the leaked document over 10 million very angry ex-smokers on their hands plus all of their families and friends. Do not allow Philip Morris (sorry their spokesperson in the form of the Lithuanian presidency) to win this. Which you all the best on Tuesday.

    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_European_Parliament_Save_electronic_cigarettes_from_excessive_EU_regulation

  • I smoked for over 40 years and tried everything under the sun to try and stop. All products given to me by the NHS only worked for a matter of weeks. However since I first tried an ecig 10 months ago I haven’t smoked a cigarette. I feel healthier,and have been classified by my GP as a non smoker.
    All genuine research carried out is showing that ecigs are far safer than smoking cigarettes. So why on earth would anyone want to deny people useing them. The only reason I can see is that the Pharmaceutical and Tobacco companies will lose out financially. Lithuania which is the head of the EU presidency receives more tax from the tobacco industry than any other company.This is because Philip Morris is one of their biggest employers. So no doubt they will want to push this through the EU parliament before they lose the Presidency in 2014.

  • peter tozer 1st Dec '13 - 6:24pm

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou for being the 1st openly minded and upfront mep that has come forward in the name of common sense.
    I have read the comments above and it givesa clear cross sample of the thoughts surrounding the industry, would like to try and answr and clarify.

    1> ecigs have never, are not and should not be marketed or used as a smoking cessation device. Vaping is about an alternative form of smoking, a healthier safer way of continuing the habit that many enjoy. Some people do use them for cessation but that is not the intended purpose and thats their choice if ti works then great, whatever saves their life.
    2> EU/UK want regulation cause then they control the taxes over it. There is no other pure explanation than the lost revenue both the government and tobacco companies are experiencing. Currently in the uk there are over 1.3million vapers. if each vaper was smoking 20/day the revenue lost to the government from taxes is over £8mil/DAY
    3> Vaping is NOT being marketed towards finding new users. Yes there is a variety of flavours out there, for good purpose. After 4 weeks fo not smoking your taste buds become alive again, once you can taste tobacco again, you wont want it. This does not mean bubblegum, strawberry chew etc is marketed at kids, i love chewits just like my kids do. You want an example of marketing to children look at the flavors of vodka and other alcohol beverages, and currently available NRT such as nicorette lollipops, fruity and minty chewing gums.

    Does these mean some things dont need looking at and regulating? no, not at all, but an outright ban has no place. Yes there needs to be restriction on the sale of devices and juices (including the nicotine free varieties) with regards to age, 18+ only.
    Yes there should be some quality control in place for mixing of juices but that should be limited to dosages and ingredients, with a maximum practical limit of nic content to 36mg/10ml and ingredients to pg/vg/ag bases.
    Yes there needs to be quality control over devices. They are electrical devices that use the same batteries found in phones etc poor quality cheap items can be dangerous.
    But that is as far as any regulation should go.

  • Mike Barton 1st Dec '13 - 7:10pm

    I guess it is time for me to state my position in this as well. I was a member of the Liberal Democrats in the days of Paddy Ashdown. since then other things have taken more importance in my life but I have always had a soft spot for the party itself if not for the political activists and politicians who sometimes make me angry.

    First I am a Vaper who has been following Rebecca Taylor and Chris Davies and also Martin Callanan since they actually took the time and made the effort to actually engage with the electorate and listen to our concerns.

    After their investigation they became champions so to speak of the vaping community within the UK EU MEP groups and they are much admired for doing so by literally millions of voters.

    These three, along with a few other noteworthy MEP’s, have restored my faith in MEPs to a large extent whereas before I was quite frankly, very ‘anti politician’.

    I have been a smoker since the age of 12. I am now 47. During that time I have smoked cigarettes, rollies and Cigars in one way or another almost all the time. I was smoking 40 hand rolled cigarettes a day until 6th January of 2013.

    I have tried to quit smoking with patches, gum, inhalers, Champix and simple will power.

    The only one that ever worked was willpower but even that only lasted for 2 years. Eventually I ended up back on the tobacco as it was a constant struggle to stay off them. Funnily enough according to the NHS stop smoking service I have actually been a successful quitter 3 times so far. Each time for approx. 4 weeks until the patches, gum and inhalers failed. The Champix was a complete joke and had no effect whatsoever on me. I found out later that Champix had a substantially worse effect on some people even to the level of causing suicides and severe mood swings.

    Anyway my wife suggested I try an Ecig from a supermarket in January as she and the rest of my family are all non smokers I decided to give it a go somewhat unwillingly. These are the types you see in adverts and on most pictures in the papers that look like actual cigarettes.

    After a day or so of using one, I was ready to give up on it as whilst it helped a bit, it was not doing the job well enough. However as I had promised my wife I would try however reluctantly, I decided to see if anything more effective was available. This is where I found the 2nd and 3rd generation Ecigs available from researching on a number of Vaping community forums.

    I am no scientist but I do have some knowledge in the field and I am more than capable of reading and understanding it to a reasonable degree.

    Medical authorisation would cost. A lot. In fact most small businesses would need to find enough money to cover the items they sell at the moment, which equals the entire Ecigs industry financial take in a year. The MHRA have failed utterly to show how ANY small or medium business could possibly stay in business if medical authorisations were brought into effect. They have stated categorically that nothing on the market today or historically, would meet the requirements of an MA. They have used the words light touch and right touch but have not outlined exactly what it means. All they have said is that there is a need due to so called gateway effects ( Which their own research has proved to be a false belief ) and so called toxic chemicals which was used in 2009 by the FDA in the USA and which the judge in that case threw out for being junk science.

    There has been a number of court cases which have also stated Ecigs are not medical many of which were in the EU. The EU’s own JURI committee has stated the Medicalization of Ecigs would be illegal.

    Even with all of this the EU parties broadly leaning to the left tried to push through illegal legislation to effectively ban these consumer products.

    We then found an unexpected ally on our side in Rebecca and Chris and the liberal democrats and Conservatives were in the forefront of fighting for us along with their allies in the EU.

    We won the Plenary vote with a LARGE majority. Against all expectations and as far as I know against all previous history or precedent. where a group of consumers who are voters, were able to actually make their voices heard loudly enough to actually effect something that was going on in the EU parliament.

    Rebecca Taylor and Chris Davies have probably won more votes for their party than any two activists in the history of the Liberal Democrats by their actions and willingness to actually engage with us.

    Ecigs contain 4 basic elements.

    1 Nicotine, 2 Propylene Glycerol, 3 Vegetable Glycerine, 4 Food flavouring.

    The first 3 have a lot of research done on them already and have been proven to be largely harmless to the human body even though Nicotine is lumped in with Tobacco smoke and so therefore erroneously considered dangerous. Would you believe that approximately 40% of GP’s actually believe Nicotine is carcinogenic? Aside from the fact that they are completely wrong, it is worrying that our Doctors are the very people who should know it is not the case but previous anti smoking campaigns seem to have sunk in a little deeper than expected.

    The 4th ingredient is where some more research is called for and many Vapers (including those who have small to medium sized businesses) are all for more research to be done in this area. While we all use food grade flavourings and while the vast majority appear to be completely harmless there ‘may’ be some which ‘may’ have some effects we do not want. Scientists from all sides of the argument appear to agree more research is needed on these.

    However the simple fact is that pretty much every scientist on every side ( with the possible exception of a few extremists who seem to have an ulterior Motive ) is in agreement that Ecigs are 3 orders of magnitude safer than Tobacco cigarettes. That is in the general region of 99.9% safer.

    Nobody is saying they are completely harmless but they are close to harmless. There are other things of an equal or greater harm that never even get commented on such as Coke, coffee and tea with Caffiene, Alcohol, Carbon monoxide created by traffic. I could go on for a very long time.

    There is no so called Second hand smoke or side stream vapour and therefore no harm indirect or otherwise to anyone else.

    There has not been a single proven case of anyone anywhere being harmed by using an Ecig in the years since they were first invented so whilst there are no long term studies yet ( impossible when you think about it ) the current information suggests that they are actually safer than eating a sandwich, which as we all know has been known to cause people to put on weight and even choke on a crumb in times past.

    Some scares placed in the papers about batteries exploding have been hyped up but batteries explode, Ecigs use the same batteries as your phone or your laptop. Do you want to medicalise or ban them as well?

    From all the research I have done ( I can tell you I read on this subject every single day and have done so since January ) I can find no legitimate reason why anyone would want to curb the growth and innovation of the Ecig Industry as it stands right now. The very nature of the innovation and variety of the products is what makes them work and that will only continue to exists when small business is able to upgrade and improve the product to meet the needs of the people who use them. Ecigs have come a long way in a few years using this method and the 3rd generation Ecigs are far better and effective than the originals. If anything stifles the industry it will be over the top regulation which will drive out all of the people who are responsible for the success of the Ecigs so far.

    This went on a bit longer than expected but I would certainly ask any Liberal Democrat to support Rebecca and Chris and keep mine and many others confidence that there is at least one political party willing to actually listen to the people they actually represent.

  • The UK Government’s, and indeed Labour’s position on ecigs is a great mistake. It is born, in my opinion, out of the fear that ecigs could prolong the life of the tobacco market.
    Much play is made in the anti-ecig camp of the idea that because I am still taking nicotine I could one day return to lit tobacco – it ignores the fact that I now view lit tobacco in the same way that a non-smoker does and would really rather not. Ironically the one thing that would make me likely to return to lit tobacco would be medicalising ecigs!
    To any non-vapers, the reason we do not like the idea of medicalisation is because we now use 2nd and 3rd generation devices that produce more vapour and develop the flavours better. For most of us the 1st generation devices were more a proof of concept than something we could use as a satisfying alternative to smoking – they led us to research and purchase better ecigs. The only products that will be available under medicalisation are akin to the 1st generation devices because the MHRA require a consistent dose (similar to the ones you now see in supermarkets) and they just don’t work well enough. I don’t want a consistent dose, I want to raise and lower my voltage and nic levels at will! Plus they have really high running costs, in some cases as high as the cigarettes we used to buy.
    I will be sharing your Buzzfeed where I can Rebecca, and certainly during tonight’s twitter bomb when we will again try to get #ecigs and #EUecigBAN trending (9.30-10.30pm).

  • If nicotine were not addictive, gum, patches and vaporisers would be useless and this would produce other arguments for controlling their distribution. Those that deny the addictive properties of nicotine need to supply good references: the weight of the experience of millions says the opposite.

  • I shall definitely be voting for Katherine Bearder MEP Liberal Democrat, in the forthcoming EU Elections.
    Thanks for all your help in the Ecigs Campaign. JOHN

  • Paul Kendrick 2nd Dec '13 - 1:44am

    I really don’t give a hoot about hypothetical concerns or anti nicotine ideology. All I know is from my own experience. I smoked for almost 15 years and for the last 13 months I’ve vaped e-cigs instead.
    Here are some of the reasons I stuck with e-cigs over smoking:
    I don’t smell.
    My chest feels ‘clear’ at last.
    I have non-tobacco flavours to choose from.
    I could make a choice as a free man.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Dec '13 - 2:00am

    I’m interested in this democratic vote. So the EU parliament voted against this, but it might happen anyway? This is fine if there is going to be another vote, but is there?

    I think there probably will be, but I can’t help being suspicious when it comes to democracy and the EU.

  • Mike Barton 2nd Dec '13 - 2:24am

    In response to Martin

    Nicotine is not ‘as’ addictive in its pure form. Cigarettes have a large cocktail of extra chemicals added which effectively boost the addictive properties. They are called Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for a clinical stuy read http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/38/8593.full
    There is a lot more information out there but quite frankly I do not have the time or the wherewithal to list it all for you. Some of the links I am posting next may be of interest to you however.

    In response to Eddie

    There is a huge amount of information on what is going on in the EU with regard to this and other attacks of Ecigs. The best place to start is probably http://nicotinepolicy.net/ and for some very educational reading on both Tobacco harm reduction and the recent shenanigans in the EU I would suggest http://www.clivebates.com (The counterfactual)

    Both of these sites are considered to be beyond reproach, the first being run by a group of very highly regarded Tobacco harm reduction advocates including the eminent Professor Gerry Stimson, Jacques Le Houezec , Konstantinos Farsalinos, Riccardo Polosa, Michael Siegel and many more top internationally renowned experts in the field. The latter link is owned and written by former Director of ASH, Clive Bates.

    Even the Anti Ecig side cannot ignore these people although they try very hard to do so.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Dec '13 - 5:45am

    Our friend Nigel Farage has helped but the boot into this idea for me.

    He writes an intellectually consistent article in the Independent about how excessive regulation on e-cigs and regular cigarettes are helping criminals, terrorists and hurting small businesses. Complete anathema to me.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/government-plans-to-curb-smoking-are-not-only-wasteful-but-unworkable-8976031.html

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Dec '13 - 6:02am

    Thanks to Rebecca Taylor as well, because if it wasn’t for her drawing my attention to this issue I wouldn’t have explored it and checked out the pros and cons!

    I may not have much influence as just a regular member, but every little counts to move public opinion.

  • Alan Depauw 2nd Dec '13 - 11:19am

    Medicines regulation would, according to the MHRA, eliminate all the products currently on the market and all that makes the electronic cigarette attractive to smokers. At least one tobacco company is currently pushing a product through the medical licensing process; but it is little more than a nicotine inhaler. The result of medicalisation would therefore encourage many if not most current vapers back to tobacco and leave what would be left of the market in the hands of the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries. The ALDE MEPs are to be congratulated for having respected the vapers who wrote to them sufficiently to examine the issue with open minds, then having the courage to fight for what they came to accept was a major public health issue against some pretty powerful lobbies.

  • Fergus Mason 2nd Dec '13 - 1:26pm

    “Isn’t there a danger that, if e-cigarettes are readily available, would-be ex-smokers might switch to e-cigarettes instead of quitting?”

    So what? Why do you think that’s a problem?

  • Margaret Hermon 2nd Dec '13 - 4:34pm

    Previous comments have covered almost every aspect of the e-cig and its use but I would like to add just one thing: an industry that serves 2 million vapers has created a great many job opportunities in the UK, and this is applicable to the entire EU. Every person in a job is a massive plus in areas of high unemployment. There is a strange misconception that all things e-cig emanate from China; most of the juices I have used are manufatured right here in UK. Many of the “mods” (which is what we call non-cigalike e-cigs) are a triumph of British craftsmanship and are exported world-wide.
    If the EU has its way all these entrepreneurs who pioneered this breakthrough will be out of business and back on the dole; apart from the tragic injustice of this it is surely economically counter-productive? People who have gone from claiming every benefit to paying Income Tax will know how to vote; because despite the propaganda we are constantly being fed to the contrary, most people really DO want to work.

  • I’m 53 (eek!) and smoked for 30 years. When flights became cheap to Spain, I’d go and stock up on cigs (which were half price). All that happened was I smoked twice as much and so ended up saving nothing. Three months ago I was down to my last £50 for the month and thinking how many cigs it would buy me when a colleague of mine suggested going to my local vaping store and testing out some of the liquids. I’d already tried a lookalike e-cig and hated it, along with nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, none of which worked for more than a couple of days.

    Anyway, here I am 3 months later without having had a single cigarette, all thanks to my local store! It took a while to make the adjustment but I’m so glad I did. My lung capacity is excellent according to my GP and I use my treadmill 4 days a week for an hour, which I couldn’t do before because I’d get out of breath in 20 minutes. I’m a huge success story to my family and it’s beyond sinister that the tobacco companies and Big Pharma would rather we were all dying a slow death so they could extract more money from us. Our government pretend they care about our health, but the reality is that smokers are just £££ signs for them. NRT’s have never been truly effective, and I guess that was deliberate so Pharma can keep getting ‘repeat’ customers and when they don’t work, we go back to cigarettes again, win win for the tobacco companies and Pharma. The govt. are losing about a billion a year so far and that’s just with over a million vapers. Imagine what that figure could be in a few years. They cannot restrict e-cigs unless they remove actual cigarettes from the shelf, and that’s never going to happen. If vaping gets outlawed, I’ll be bereft. I love it and have managed to go from 24mg to 12mg with my own choice of flavours and at my own pace. To take this away from us is basically saying we’re worth nothing but income to these thieves without a conscience.

  • Stuart Mitchell 3rd Dec '13 - 8:13pm

    I thought Lib Dems prided themselves on “evidence-based” policy, but the rosy picture of e-cigarettes being painted here seems to be based largely on supposition and anecdotes. Many of the assertions made in the article are contrary to much of the information given here :-

    http://bma.org.uk/working-for-change/improving-and-protecting-health/tobacco/e-cigarettes

    http://bma.org.uk/-/media/Files/PDFs/Working%20for%20change/Improving%20health/tobaccoecigarettespublicplaces_jan2013.pdf

    For example, though you claim that e-cigarettes do not contain carcinogens, the BMA quote a study which found that half of e-cigarettes tested did in fact contain carcinogens, plus other toxins. This is one of many reasons why the BMA are strongly in favour of more regulation.

  • Mike Barton 3rd Dec '13 - 8:44pm

    I would suggest you investigate the material they are referencing. Aside from the fact the fda sponsored research was tossed out of court years ago as being very poorly done it was also stated the details were cherry picked and twisted to fit a certain agenda. The nitrosomines found were at the same level or less than that in nicotine patches. In fact all following studies in the years since that have been peer reviewed show that all the chemicals found are in such small amounts they are harmless to health. Anyone can research this themselves. Just go to the original source material NOT to the press releases from organisations who have an agenda.

  • Stuart Mitchell 4th Dec '13 - 7:11pm

    @Steve and @Mike
    Instead of berating me for offering a contrary point of view from a reputable source, perhaps you ought to be writing to the BMA and trying to convince *them*, because at the moment their assessment of the evidence does not find much good about e-cigarettes.

    As for suggesting that I go to the website of the “Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association” to find some impartial evidence… Please be serious.

    Going back to the original post, Rebecca claims she is fighting to “save” e-cigs. Who is trying to ban them?

  • Mike Barton 5th Dec '13 - 6:07pm

    I would ask you to read the two links i posted for you further up. Reading both of them will give you all the information you need and are not linked to the the industry. If you read them both it will answer your specific questions about who is trying to ban and lots of top scientific evidence and research.

  • dean fichna 9th Dec '13 - 8:08pm

    I used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day and felt awful, I switched to e cigs a year ago and now use low dosage nicotine liquid. I enjoy the flavours and I feel much healthier. I even had a lung capacity test and I have a lot more breath than I did when I was smoking. I understand these devices need to be regulated in some way, but the proposals that are laid out will outright ban the set ups that actually work for people and instead replace them with a single disposable style e cig, the same device that nobody uses because they are not effective. Also it begs the question why, when much more harmful tobacco cigarettes are so easily available. Tobacco cigarettes generate huge sums of money every year in taxes and I wonder if these proposals are to protect those huge sums and not in the interest of people’s health. People have a right to a freedom of choice, if you want to smoke you can, so why not be able to vape? The banning of flavours is a ridiculous idea, if flavours encourage children, then why are flavoured alcohols on sale as children drinking is a huge problem also. I hope my right of choice is protected and that the commission see sense, it’s good to see mp’s standing up for people’s rights. Thanks

  • Why are we opposed to a drug that isn’t harmful, even if it is potentially addictive?

  • Tereza Rutter 17th Jun '14 - 10:57am

    Being in my mid 40s and a former 25-30/day tobacco smoker and former alcoholic, I’m quite outraged by this regulation. Now I use an e-cig, I no longer touch any form of tobacco products; the device is a Godsend, as I never thought I would be able to give up smoking, having tried numerous times. If this product is regulated to make it almost impossible to obtain and most likely just as expensive as cigarettes, then people will return to tobacco, I have no doubt. Can I just point out that alcohol is a poison and effects every organ in the body, it is a big killer in this country. What I’m trying to say is that alcohol is not strictly regulated so why e-cigs? Can I suggest regulating e-cigs and the liquid with warning labels and an age limit be reinforced with proof of age and large fines for people selling underage. Why does the Government and WHO always have to decide everything for us, are we not able to decern for ourselves what is good or bad for us?! I would also mention that the Government is losing a lot of revenue with many people turning to e-cigs and despite the cost to the NHS , the Government still benefits hugely from people smoking and drinking. If it’s not the Government making money from us it’s the pharmaceutical industry. I hope and pray this regulation doesn’t go ahead as it will be a death sentence for some of us. I apologise for being outspoken but I feel very passionate about this.

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