Wrong-headed EU plans to regulate e-cigarettes harm health and choice.


Daniel Pryor criticises hypocritical EU plans to regulate e-cigarettes as medicinal products.

Imposing one’s personal morality upon the masses by force is a typical characteristic of collectivism, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more virulent strain of such behaviour than within the public health lobby. From admirable beginnings devoted to challenging tobacco firms’ lies about the harmful effects of smoking, many advocates of health-by-compulsion have now become the faux-benevolent faces of big government.

…many advocates of health-by-compulsion have now become the faux-benevolent faces of big government.

Nowhere is this trend clearer than in the workings of the European Union. Its proposed revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) aims to, amongst other things, classify e-cigarettes as ‘medicinal products’. Whilst this change may seem relatively innocuous, it will serve to burden producers with mountains of costly regulation: potentially forcing some out of business and restricting consumers’ access to ‘vapers’ (as e-cigarettes are sometimes called).

‘So what? Any product including the word ‘cigarette’ must be harmful to health,’ you may assume. Indeed, the emergence of e-cigarettes – which were first introduced to Western markets as late as 2006 – has been accompanied by fierce debate regarding their effects and the extent of their efficacy as an anti-smoking aid. However, the latest research, published by The Lancet, validates the claim that e-cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine patches for those who wish to quit smoking: if not more so. Commenting for The Lancet upon the study, Professor Peter Hajek of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine said:

“The European Union and UK are currently proposing to regulate e-­cigarettes as medicinal devices, while leaving cigarettes available on general sale. If this regulation goes ahead, tobacco cigarettes will retain their market monopoly and we will never learn whether e-­cigarettes would replace traditional cigarettes if allowed to continue evolving and competing with smoked tobacco on even terms.”

The ‘No Thank EU’ campaign has more information on ways to oppose the proposed revisions to the TPD. Restricting consumer choice under the pretence of saving us from ourselves is questionable at the best of times, but doing so by punishing producers of an anti-smoking aid is patently foolish. The final word goes to Chris Snowdon, author of ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking’:

“By regulating e-cigarettes as medical products, the Tobacco Products Directive will raise barriers to entry, increase prices and exclude new entrants from the market. Innovation in the e-cigarette market will be stifled and the products will become less appealing to smokers. Whether you look at this as being as issue of public health or consumer freedom, this is crazy.”




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