Over the last weekend, the N.Y.Times Andrew Higgins wrote an article entitled, Aided by Army of Vapers, E-Cigarette Industry Woos and Wins Europe. While the main facts of the piece are accurate, the general tone of it allows the reader to believe that this important, unexpected victory for public health was somehow imposed on credulous EU bureaucrats by the sleight-of-hand of the e-cigarette industry.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Beginning about two years ago, when the ill-advised, counterproductive European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was being crafted, we here at ACSH noted how harmful it was likely to be and we sent in our comments to that effect. However, as outsiders, we knew we would not be a significant presence at these debates. When the final draft of the TPD became known late last year, ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross was downcast and frustrated to see how antithetical to public health it was, mainly due to the banning, in effect, of e-cigarettes; therefore, he wrote this op-ed: The EU s new tobacco products directive: protecting cigarette markets, killing smokers.
Over the course of this year, accelerating unrest among the millions of European vapers led to numerous demonstrations against the TPD, highlighted by a July 10th gathering in Brussels, outside the committee offices considering the proposal. Hundreds of angry and frightened vapers protested, without apparent effect. But on October 8th, in Strasbourg, the EU Parliament voted down the severe restrictions on e-cigarettes, and the vaping community exhaled a sigh of relief as did many of us devoted to public health everywhere.
Dr. Ross had this to say: This was a true triumph of people-speak, if anything ever was. The relentless opposition to e-cigarettes for helping addicted smokers quit is clearly a campaign led by Big Pharma, trying to protect its grasp of nicotine-replacement therapy money, with help from old-style tobacco warriors who cannot accept anything to do with nicotine or anything with the word cigarette in it, and the big nonprofits for reasons of...profit. The Times article, however, implies at least that the e-cigarette industry was the prime mover in derailing the TPD, with some help from vapers. First, there s no e-cigarette industry it s too scattered. Second, I ve seen the desperation of smokers who can t quit and read thousands of their anecdotes of gratitude when they ve succeeded via using e-cigarettes. Let s hope we don t have to undergo the same scenario here: the FDA should take heed and follow the lead of the EU and avoid regulating e-cigarettes right off the market and into the arms of Big Tobacco.