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Brexit and Vaping

Brexit and Vaping: The June EU referendum is approaching and some are discussing what it means for ecigs

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Vapers became intertwined with European politics the minute the European parliament mooted the notion of including electronic cigarettes in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). People who previously avoided politics were writing or visiting their local MPs and MEPs. When the TPD passed into law, campaigners saw the impending EU In/Out referendum as an ideal time to press their cause.

“Smoking has retreated into being an engrained habit in some of Britain’s most deprived communities,” says the 100K Campaign website. “As a result many in the Westminster bubble have lost touch with the feelings of smokers including those using e-cigarettes to quit.”

The organisers of the 100K Campaign wanted to raise enough signatures in order to press the Prime Minister into demanding concessions for the UK to opt out of the TPD impositions during his negotiations. Unfortunately, it failed in its primary goal but has thrown its weight behind the Brexit campaign.

“Somehow the Conservatives won a majority in the election.  Somehow Jeremy Corbyn became Leader of the Opposition.  So what makes you think 2.6 million vapers can’t change the TPD? In 2010 and 2013 vapers had already united to stop UK and European regulators from shutting down vaping.  So we need just a tiny bit of your energy to once again stop bad regulation in its tracks. The TPD will come into effect as you vote on whether the UK should stay in the EU.  It will be a close vote and Brussels will give opt-outs to the UK to encourage us to stay in. So by signing the petition you have enormous power to force change. And writing to your MP would also be really helpful.”

A writer for the Economic Voice blog argues that remaining in Europe spells disaster for 1,500 UK-based vape businesses.  They write: “Given the frantic renegotiations that would have to take place after Brexit, it’s hard to see the TPD being a priority — though it is the last slim hope of vaping businesses in the UK.” But then this assumes there is a political will to address a situation that, if left as is, would see additional revenue coming into the exchequer.

They continue: “The upshot of all this is that we have an unwanted law coming into place in May that restricts British freedoms, hurts British businesses and is at odds with the stance of the democratically elected government. This is a hugely compelling reason for the 2.2 million British vapers, the 1,500 business owners and the thousands of e-cigarette company employees to vote ‘leave’ in the coming referendum.”

Many would refute that something of such import as the EU referendum should not be left to single issue politics, many have already questioned the stances being taken by a number of vaping activists and publicly regretted signing the 100K petition when it became tied to the ‘Out’ campaign after Cameron’s negotiations.

Clive Bates, a popular vaping advocate, summed up the situation between vaping and a potential exit: “Does leaving the EU help? No. I think UK leaving the EU will not fix this problem at all.  If there is a Brexit, UK is likely to have to comply with this directive anyway [I think the Norway model would apply – but that’s a longer discussion] and we would lose one of the more progressive voices from the process of reforming it.”

So, whether Britain elects to remain or leave the EU one thing is for certain: the TPD is here to stay.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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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.

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