The deal, which has not been finalised, could see all e cigarettes with over 20 milligrams of nicotine brought under new restrictions.

The European parliament is understood to be content with the use of refillable nicotine cartridges, but member states such as Britain and Germany are concerned that the cartridges can contain up to 10 milligrams of nicotine the equivalent of a carton of 200 cigarettes.

If refillable e cigarettes are prohibited in at least three member states, the commission would be able to extend the ban to all member states.

If the talks fail, e cigarettes would remain unregulated, providing a sigh of relief to an industry which could outperform the f700 billion cigarette market within ten years.

Proposals for all electronic cigarettes to be controlled by pharmaceutical legislation were rejected by MEPs.

Liberal Democrat MEP and health spokeswoman in the European parliament Rebecca Taylor said “Significant ground had been won in the rejection of Europe wide medicines licensing. But the decision to potentially ban refillable cartridges and devices in future would be a backward step.”

Euromonitor currently puts the value of the market at f2 billion, but a surge of investment from big tobacco firms like Philip Morris owner Altria, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco show there is widespread belief that electronic smoking could offer a popular substitute to the real thing.

A study published in the Lancet this year showed shifting to e cigarettes makes smokers at least as likely to quit as using nicotine patches and other research projects also suggest a significantly higher success rate than more traditional nicotine replacement options, like gum.

There are concerns around the safety of the product, however. A study presented at the American Society of Cell Biology in New Orleans showed prolonged exposure to nicotine, either through normal smoking or by e cigarettes, may damage the heart.

Buying goods in another member state – european commission

There are no limits on what private persons can buy and take with them when they travel between EU countries, as long as the products purchased are for personal use and not for resale, with exception of new means of transport. Taxes (VAT and excise) will be included in the price of the products in the Member State of purchase and no further payment of taxes can be due in any other Member State.

Tobacco and alcohol

However, special rules apply in the case of goods subject to excise duty, such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. If a private person purchases such products in one Member State and takes them to another Member State, the principle that no excise duty has to be paid in the Member State of destination only applies if the goods are

  • for the own use of the traveller and
  • transported by himself.

To determine whether these products are for the own use of the traveller, Member States must take account of all the relevant factors. These include

  • The commercial status of the holder of the products and his reasons for holding them
  • The place where the products are located or, if appropriate, the mode of transport used
  • Any document relating to the products
  • The nature of the products
  • The quantity of the products.

As to the last element, Member States may lay down guide levels, solely as a form as evidence, which cannot be lower than the following quantities

a) Tobacco products

  • cigarettes 800 items
  • cigarillos (cigars weighing not more than 3 g each) 400 items
  • cigars 200 items
  • smoking tobacco 1.0 kg

b) Alcoholic beverages

  • spirit drinks 10 litres
  • intermediate products 20 litres
  • wines (including a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wines) 90 litres
  • beers 110 litres

Travelling within the EU via Switzerland (or other non EU countries)

If you travel from one EU Member State to another through Switzerland (or another non EU country), you may carry goods for personal use without border formalities as long as the thresholds set out for the entry into Switzerland/re entry into the EU are not exceeded. If you carry quantities exceeding those thresholds, declare them when entering Switzerland and when re entering the EU. In Switzerland you may be requested to provide a financial guarantee which you get back when you leave the country with the goods. On re entry into the EU you must declare these goods. No duties apply if you can prove that they come from another EU country and are intended for personal use (see article 323 of Regulation (EC) No 2454/93 on page 111).

Buying excise products over the Internet

Do you intend to purchase excise products (e.g. wine, spirits and tobacco products such as cigarettes, etc) over the internet? See the list of frequently asked questions.

New Means of transport

Where new means of transport are purchased in another Member State, special rules apply, and the purchase is taxable in the Member State of registration of the means of transport, rather than the Member State in which it is purchased.

Other information for travellers

The brochure “Travelling in Europe” provides practical information for tourists travelling within the EU. You will find information on documentation, shopping, driving, healthcare, communications, weather, public holidays, cultural events and help if things go wrong.

Travelling by air baggage controls in the European Union

You may find background information on baggage controls of passengers entering or leaving the EU in this information document.