In light of the document in which fears were expressed that electronic cigarettes could rehabilitate the “pariah” tobacco industry, the Department of Health are reported by The Guardian as saying: “new controls on e-cigarettes to be introduced next month could make consumers turn to potentially dangerous black market products.”
The statement comes on the back of its own impact assessment, in which it confirms what vapers already suspected. The PDF details how Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive will lead to manufacturers and vendors passing on the higher costs incurred to ecig users. In turn, it draws the logical conclusion that higher costs will cause vapers to switch back to smoking.
Not just this, but the impact study also makes the statement: “There is a risk that a black market will develop with potentially harmful e-cigarette products due to consumers no longer having the same degree of choice in the legal market.”
The Telegraph points out that the TPD will also weaken the benefits conferred by vaping: “E-cigarettes will be forced to become weaker as a result of new EU rules.” The RCP announced that vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking and yet its success as a quit tool will be thrown into question if low strength liquids fail to hit the spot for smokers looking to escape: “If users can’t get the desired nicotine level from e-cigarettes they may switch to cigarettes.”
“As well regulating the size and strength of e-cigarettes, the Tobacco Products Directive places new rules on packaging and severely restricts the scope of manufacturers to advertise their products.” It all adds up to European legislation standing in the way of a successful and now widely supported product.
The RCP report calls for “proportionate regulation”, the TPD clearly isn’t such a measure. “Rules should not be allowed to significantly inhibit the development and use of harm-reduction products.”
So does this mean the Department of Health is finally in agreement with Public Health England, the RCP and vaping advocates? Unfortunately not. While the impact study considered the facts, and agreed with the negative impact of the TPD, a spokesperson claimed: “these are far outweighed by the health benefits of the directive, which are worth more than £13billion to the UK.”
Vapers for Britain spokesman, Ian Gregory, replied: “In its assessment, the Department of Health has not been able to quantify any benefit from the massive regulation of e-cigarettes.”
Many vapers will now wonder if the government will reconsider its position on the TPD, and it is bound to factor into voting intentions for the forthcoming EU referendum.