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EU Negotiations Spare E-Cigs

Filed in News & Politics by on October 10, 2013

shutterstock_92217964Electronic cigarettes are gaining traction in the European Union. On Tuesday, the 8th of October, members of the European Parliament met in order to vote on new regulations for tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

The rapporteur of the meeting was Linda McAvan, a member of Parliament. In her first statement during the negotiations, she addressed the panel by saying, “It has been a long slog to get here, with thousands of amendments, but I sincerely hope today that this Parliament will do the right thing.” It truly has been a long road, and there’s still a long path ahead. But this is a definitive first step for the EU and we’re looking forward to what happens in the US…

Addressing e-cigs, McAvan said, “We have amendments here, some to have no regulation, and then amendments to have some form of regulation, and we are going to debate what kind of regulation. I hope we can have a sensible calm debate on this issue and not some of the misrepresentations we have seen in recent weeks.” The negotiations ended up being productive, and the meeting concluded with several approved amendments to the proposed tobacco directive from July.

This is how e-cigs will be affected by the new amendments:

1. If they claim to have “curative or preventive properties” (ie health or smoking cessation claims) they must be regulated as medicinal products

2. E-cigs with no health claims may not contain nicotine levels higher than 30 mg/ml, and manufacturers/retailers must convey health warnings

3. They must follow the same advertising regulations as tobacco products

4. E-cigs may not be sold to anyone under 18 years old

5. Manufacturers and importers must supply a list of all ingredients contained in their e-cigs

McAvan also stressed that the process of purchasing e-cigs won’t change… “There never was a suggestion that e-cigarettes should only be sold in pharmacies. This is a national law issue. The EU law is simply about how to regulate the e-cigarettes.” They’ll still be marketed as consumer goods and will remain available for purchase online and in stores; just not to minors.

Here’s a list of some of the other amendments they approved:

1. All packs of cigarettes must display graphic health warnings, covering at least 65% of the surface of the pack

2. Health warnings must be at the top of all packs of cigarettes, so they are visible at the point of display; Brand name must be placed at the bottom of the pack

3. Non-tobacco flavors are to be phased out and banned within three years

4. Menthol cigarettes will begin to decrease in production and are to be phased out and banned within eight years

5. Cigarettes must come in packs of 20 – packs of ten are to be banned

6. A list of all additives within cigarettes for sale must be provided, and many of those additives are to be banned


In an official press release from Parliament, the conclusion stated, “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. The deadline for phasing out flavours in general is three years, with five additional years for menthol (total eight years). Tobacco products that do not comply with the directive will be tolerated on the market for 24 months, and e-cigarettes for 36 months.

This isn’t the end of the road, but it’s definitely a good start.

A copy of the tobacco directive with amendments can be found here.

Videos, text and audio from the actual debate can be found here.

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