I have addressed the byzantine process of making laws and regulations in the conglomerate known as the European Union on several occasions, focusing on the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). (See here, here and here). The process for collecting public input and expert consultation on this measure, which when finalized will have tremendous influence on not only European, but on global tobacco oversight, began in 2009. The roller-coaster process might have concluded earlier this year when the various bodies running the EU agreed after a fashion on its current, bizarre and unscientific, harmful form.
Not so fast, however: those of us devoted to public health, especially those interested in trying to stem the smoking-induced catastrophe approaching over the next several decades, determined from the initial publication of the TPD s early versions that no public health benefit would be found therein, at least if it was ratified in anything like it s 2012-13 format. While fortunately demands by some for medicinal-type regulation of e-cigs, effectively banning them, were defeated in the European Parliament last October, the revised TPD tentatively approved earlier this year contained a lengthy, destructive approach to e-cig/vapor regulation that would present major obstacles for smokers trying to quit. This section Article 20 flouts not only basic science and all the recent evidence-based studies, but the EU s own treaties calling for appropriate consultations, freedom of trade, and transparent discussions on such measures.
While at least one tobacco company has lodged formal complaints based on narrow, market-based concerns (and Poland is attacking the proposal based on the ban it includes on menthol some years down the road), the only e-cig marketer-based litigation was undertaken last week by Totally Wicked, one of the biggest marketers in the UK (they also have a significant presence in the U.S.). Their brief is founded on numerous violations of the letter and spirit of two important EU treaties. Having been heard in the administrative court in the UK, permission was granted to move to the Court of Justice of the European Union; that hearing will take place in 2015.
Of course, even if the ridiculous Article 20 is thrown out, several alternatives would be considered, and some of those including the disastrous resurrection of a medicinal licensing requirement would likely rear, again, their ugly heads. But in sum, this TPD needs to be trashed or revised, and we applaud Totally Wicked for taking the lead and encourage other makers and marketers of e-cigs, e-liquids and e-vapor products to join in as soon as possible. Perhaps even individual ex-smoking vapers none of whom have been consulted in this process, nor in ours here by the FDA could let their voices be heard.