A few months ago, we made mention of a legal assault on the bizarrely, perversely unscientific and harmful European Union s (EU) Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), launched by a British e-cig/vapor company, Totally Wicked by name. At that time, TW had received an acceptance from a UK Administrative court to proceed up the ladder of bureaucracy, the byzantine complexity of which rules the EU process (to explain it further would boggle the mind).
Yesterday, that next hurdle was successfully overcome: TW got the actual approval necessary to have their case heard at the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) in Luxemburg next May. The outcome there will determine the fate of the TPD s Article 20. The TPD is the overall regulatory structure of tobacco control which was crafted over several years and had to undergo revisions and be passed by the EU Parliament and the EU Council and the EU Commission (see? I advised you not to ask!). At some point between the Parliament s approval last summer and the final proposed draft, Article 20 dealing with e-cig/e-vapor regulation was tacked on. This monstrous, lengthy provision contains multitudes and 90 percent of it is devoid of any scientific basis for its overly-stringent regulations, which if applied would send most vapers back to smoking.
As TW s CEO, Fraser Cropper, told the BBC: "We must not be seen as as company that does not believe in regulations in the sector...we do - we are a firm believer in robust, relevant and proportionate regulations. We don't see that in this particular directive - we see regulations which are ill-thought out, which aren't supported by evidence and which will have a counter-productive effect which is reducing the prevalence of these products which many thousands of people are finding beneficial."
The main brief of TW is not about the science, which has several different viewpoints and would be extremely contentious to debate. No, the argument is that the process of adding Article 20, in the veritable dead of night, without consultation nor transparency, is in clear and direct violation of the EU treaties those bedrock treaties which in essence created the EU itself. And the process which produced the current TPD's Article 20 was done surreptitiously under clearly corrupt and conflicted, unaccountable interests, is simply unacceptable. The article will be revoked, we firmly believe, assuming the CJEU is relatively free of those same interests. What will happen to tobacco regulation in the EU thereafter? We ll cross that bridge when we get there, hopefully in a few months.
For a fuller discussion of the complexities and ramifications of this European scenario. the UK's Clive Bates "Counterfactual" blog is always a reliable and clear resource.