The decision by parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee to classify e cigarettes as medicines has been condemned as “counterproductive and hypocritical”.

The move part of a package of tough new measures on tobacco products was criticised by parliament’s ECR group leader Martin Callanan, who said, “It is preposterous to classify e cigarettes as medical devices.

“Thousands of people have given up smoking thanks to e cigarettes. For the EU to over regulate them is completely counterproductive and hypocritical,” added Callanan.

“Electronic cigarette production has become lucrative for many small businesses and many jobs now depend on e cigarette production. By making the authorisation procedure for e cigarettes so difficult, many of these small businesses will pack up shop.

“This vote is not the end of this process and we will be working with vapers users of e cigarettes to make other MEPs see sense and support e cigarette producers and users.

“The world has gone mad when tobacco is less regulated than products designed to end tobacco use,” he warned.

ALDE deputy Chris Davies also opposed the decision saying, “If we want to reduce smoking related deaths then we must ensure that e cigarettes are as readily available as tobacco cigarettes.

“Classifying e cigarettes as a medicinal product potentially limits their availability for sale to pharmacies, and that is the wrong thing to do.

“E cigarettes are a potential game changer in the fight against tobacco because smokers find them enjoyable to use. They can help people break their addiction in a way that conventional nicotine replacement therapies will never do. They could save millions of lives.”

However, he added, “There is momentum for change building up, and a realistic prospect that Wednesday’s vote can be overturned when the issue comes before parliament after the summer recess.”

Commenting on the e cigarettes issue, Linda McAvan, parliament’s rapporteur on the tobacco products directive, said, “I believe they can play an important role in helping smokers cut down or quit smoking. But they need proper regulation. E cigarettes will therefore remain on the market and companies will have several years to adapt to any new regulatory requirements.”

The UK MEP also pointed out that “stopping a new generation of smokers from being recruited is the top priority”.

She continued, “Europe lags behind other parts of the world in terms of tobacco control, with 28 per cent of adults smoking, compared with 17 per cent in Australia, 19 per cent in the US and 15 per cent in Brazil.”

It is currently estimated that over 700,000 people across the European Union die of smoking related illness every year, and that 70 per cent of smokers start before they are 18.

Meanwhile, public health spokesman for parliament’s Greens group Carl Schlyter said that he was “delighted” with the outcome.

He said, “The public health committee, which has the lead responsibility in the European parliament, clearly resisted the huge lobbying pressure from the tobacco industry and voted for an ambitious revision of the tobacco directive.

“I am also very happy that the committee voted to ban characterising flavours such as menthol and also slim cigarettes. Ending the use of flavours and cigarette shapes that make this killer drug attractive, particularly for younger consumers, is long overdue.”

“Likewise, it is a great step forward that the committee supported the commission proposal for a combined picture and text warning, on the front and back of packets, that takes up 75 per cent of the surface on packets of cigarettes and roll your own tobacco, instead of 65 per cent advocated by council,” he said, adding, “Warnings cannot be big enough.”

As for e cigarettes, he said, “In light of the booming, unregulated e cigarettes market, clear rules are needed. I am glad that a clear majority agreed that they should undergo a light authorisation regime as medicinal products, with a 36 month transition period.”

EPP deputy Karl Heinz Florenz also praised the decision to adopt the directive, saying, “There are more than 50 highly questionable substances that are blended into tobacco. In the future, all substances which cannot be classified as harmless will be taken off the market.

“Cigarettes are not normal consumer products. Even the very first cigarette has detrimental effects. We need to keep youngsters from smoking,” he concluded.

The tobacco products directive will be voted on by parliament’s plenary session in the autumn.

Menthol cigarettes could be banned by european union

‘smutty’ e-cigarette ad for vip brand will make you cringe (video)

Menthol cigarettes could be banned as European Union ministers approved the first stage of a proposal to make smoking less attractive.

Poland is the main country to oppose the measure, as one of Europe’s biggest tobacco producers, after Italy.

EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs Tonio Borg said ministers had taken “an important first step”.

The proposal originally aimed at stopping young women from being attracted to smoking so called alluring ‘slim’ designs, and to stop young people becoming hooked on menthol cigarettes when the tobacco taste is disguised.

Tobacco should look like tobacco and not like a perfume or a candy, Borg said.

But ‘slim’ cigarettes will not now be subject to the same ban, should the proposal become law, according to the New York Times.

The proposal would also force gruesome pictures and information about smoking related health problems to cover 75 percent of the front and the back of cigarette packs.

Any new regulations would require the proposals to be voted through the European Parliament. Only then do they become law.

Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have also opposed the plan.

A study by the firm Roland Berger, commissioned by cigarette firm Philip Morris International, predicted that if the legislation passed, the European Union would lose 70,000 to 175,000 jobs. It also predicted that slim and mentol brands were likely to become available on the black market.

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