Vaping News

EU enjoyed a Big T party

Did tobacco industries have a direct influence in Article 20?

Share on:
Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive places unreasonable demands on small to medium electronic cigarette businesses. It will drive many to the wall and leave the market wide open for Big T companies with deep pockets. News that they have had direct access to European decision makers is both shocking and sadly predictable.

News has come to light that a link between tobacco companies and the European Commission has been hidden away from public scrutiny. The action to hide the links is in direct contravention of United Nations rules prohibiting companies and individuals with vested interests having access to public health policy-making bodies implementing tobacco control regulations.

Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive threw up that medically licensed vape kit doesn’t have to conform to the regulations. It makes companies have to provide a totally unrealistic six-month notification prior to launch, ridiculous limitations on size – not to mention the amazingly excessive and unnecessary documentation processes. All told, it places an impossible financial burden on vape businesses – and the bulk who make up the market are small to medium independent operations.

So, the rhetorical questions are: who stands to benefit from this nonsense? Who could possibly benefit from all of the competition being swept away from the trading arena?

As reported by Euobserver, findings from an investigation were released on Monday and “point to long-held suspicions of corporate lawyers lobbying senior staff.” John Dalli, the commissioner for health, was sacked in 2012 under a cloud of allegations of bribery linked to tobacco lobbyists and Michel Petite, the ex-head of legal services, moved on from the EU to take up a lucrative post as a corporate lawyer for Phillip Morris Inc.

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly’s report makes for grim reading as she details at least 14 undocumented and undisclosed meetings between high-ranking EU officials and representatives of tobacco interests. So, what was the reason given for the obfuscation? Because they “were not considered as meetings for the purpose of lobbying."

It is possible to see where the allegations of “astro-turf” levelled at vape campaigners comes from when one considers that Philip Morris alone spent €1.6 Billion and employed one hundred and sixty lobbyists in order to influence outcomes.

The Guardian writes that they used “third parties and fake grassroots campaigns to swamp the consultations on anti-smoking initiatives such as the introduction of plain packaging.” It is almost impossible to imagine that Big T did not attempt to exert influence over Article 20 in order to skew the marketplace in their favour.

But as has been alluded to, perhaps the worst aspect to their amoral behaviour is the impact it has had on ecig advocacy – giving opponents to a harm reduction philosophy an easy stick to beat advocates with.

Even though demands are being made for the EU to release the truth about influence before the end of the year it remains highly unlikely that the full facts will come out and a negligible chance that Article 20 will be overturned as a result. In the meantime we wait for the Advocate General to release her opinion on the Totally Wicked legal action.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

Join the discussion

Vaping News

The Fed and IBVTA Reactions

The Federation of Independent Retailers and the Independent British Vape Trade Association have been providing reaction to the Government’s ban plan

Vaping News

Totally Wicked Sponsorship Rebuke

Unjust political criticism of Totally Wicked’s sponsorship of Blackburn Rovers Football Club has met with rebuke from the club

Vaping News

Veolia Launches Nationwide Scheme

Global resource specialists Veolia has launched a nationwide “disposable” vape collection scheme to provide a safe route for the three million currently being discarded per week

Vaping News

Illegal Sales Attacked by IBVTA

The BBC is reporting that children are at risk from illegal vape sales and the Independent British Vape Trade Association has expressed its concern