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Welsh MEPs
13-02-2014, 11:03 AM
Post: #1
Welsh MEPs
At the same time as I wrote to Martin Schulz, I also wrote to all four of the Welsh MEPs. This morning I received the following reply from Derek Vaughan (Labour). The contents will not surprise anyone, but I have since sent a further reply 'correcting' a number of the things he says in the email:

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your email on e-cigarettes.

You raise a number of concerns about the misinformation and secrecy surrounding about the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) and that section of the proposal which relates to e-cigarettes.

Firstly, to put the proposal in context, all EU laws must be agreed both by MEPs and Ministers from the 28 member countries of the EU. The text which is being put to the vote in Parliament is the outcome of an agreement between MEPs and 28 national governments and represents a compromise between the positions of both sides. Many governments - including the UK government - wanted much stricter regulation on e-cigarettes and wanted all e-cigarettes to be authorised in the same way as nicotine patches and chewing gum (using the medicines licence system), whereas the majority position in the European Parliament (voted in October) was to regulate them in a similar way to tobacco products.

The final draft agreement is very close to what the European Parliament voted in October (Martin Callanan's amendment 170), which was strongly supported by the same people who are today asking for article 18 to be deleted. The Parliament's key demand in amendment 170 was to reject the initial proposal that all e-cigarettes need a medicines licence. Parliament won on this and on its three key demands to allow: a high strength threshold, flavourings, and refillable e-cigarettes. The compromise text means that e-cigarette manufacturers have the option of having their products treated like tobacco products - i.e. they can be sold freely, as long as they meet certain safeguards. Amendment 170 voted by a majority in Parliament supported most of these safeguards, including the same advertising bans as for tobacco products, the same cross-border sales rules as for tobacco, better labelling for consumers, and a cap on the nicotine strength (Parliament voted for 30mg/ml, national governments voted for 2mg/ml and the final compromise was 20mg/ml). E-cigarette manufacturers who wish to do so can still apply for a licence (medicines route) and would be able to advertise, have their products available on the NHS in the UK and sell stronger strength products. Two major UK e-cigarette companies have already announced they will seek a license in this way. Across the EU, the e-cigarette industry is split on whether to support the compromise agreement.

It is also important to remember that deleting article 18 does not mean no regulation, it would just mean no regulation of e-cigarettes at EU level - leaving national governments free to bring in their own laws. The UK Government has already made clear that given the choice, they would regulate all e-cigarettes as medicines.

There has been a lot of information, not all of it accurate, about the TPD, suggesting that e-cigarettes were going to be banned or that most products would disappear off the shelves. The debate has always been about how to regulate e-cigarettes and the amendments secured by Parliament mean all kinds of products will stay on the market, but with improved safety and quality controls for consumers. For all these reasons, I support the overall compromise Simon.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Vaughan MEP
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