Since the EU Health Commission announced its intention to update its Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in December 2012, and subsequently learning that this would include regulation of electronic cigarettes, I’ve come to realise that I spent the first 45 years in a state of political naivety.
You see, I was always under the impression that public health legislation was well intentioned, if a little “odd” sometimes, but following the TPD proposals through the EU’s process during the last 15 months or so has been a real eye opener. I now know better.
It started as a proposal (amongst others) to restrict the nicotine concentrations available on the market to less than 2mg per ml. I wrote a blog back in January 2013 detailing the precise proposals as they then stood, but reading that back now it’s hard to believe the emotional roller-coaster I was boarding.
Like many vapers I expect, the TPD has invoked a mixture of outrage, jubilation, dismay, excitement, pride, frustration, bewilderment and plain anger for me as it has blundered along towards becoming legislation. I’m not sure if that even covers all of the various emotions I’ve felt in the last year to be honest. We had the outrage at the beginning as the intention to regulate as medicines was debated at the ENVI committee, the hope of dismissing that as a stupid idea as Clive Bates, Gerry Stimson, Dr Farsalinos and even MEPs such as Nikki Sinclaire (We Want A Referendum Now Party), Marina Yannakoudakis & Martin Callanan (Conservative) seemed to listen to us. We watched Rebecca Taylor, Phil Bennion, Catherine Bearder & Chris Davies (LibDem) consult us, “get it” and manage to table an amendment that prevented classification as Med Regs.
We experienced jubilation and immense pride, when that amendment slapped Linda McAvan (Labour and rapporteur for the TPD revisions) in the face on October 8th 2013, then dismay and betrayal as we realised that the likes of Chris Davies were deserting us, seemingly for self-serving, political gains. We had bewilderment as the LibDems who had supported us so well, appeared to be split on their assessment of what was going on. And so on. You get the picture. (In fact, if you’re reading this, you probably experienced it first hand).
Even on the morning of the final vote in Strasbourg, two days ago, when Martin Callanan (Conservative) tabled a last ditch attempt to split Article 18a (the e-cig bit) from the wider TPD vote, we stayed on that roller coaster with our hopes raised, simply to see them dashed as MEPs voted away our rights to use our ecigs the way we choose to. I personally was at work in Switzerland with a Macbook Air balanced on my knee, doing my best to track every word typed in VTTV’s chatroom without the boss spotting me, only to feel dejected and angry as the votes were counted.
So I find myself, 15 months after the beginning of this long journey in a position of defeat, licking my wounds and feeling exhausted. This is however a temporary state, and I am already looking forward to the next steps to re-introduce some common sense to this corrupt, morally bankrupt legislation.
As a vaper, you should now be doing the following, without delay:
For my part, I’m starting by boarding a bus on Tuesday to travel to Brussels and make some noise outside the European Parliament, thanks to the wonderful Nikki Sinclaire MEP, but EVERY vaper should be following points 1-6 above. If you don’t, then you’ve nobody to blame but yourselves when they remove your favourite juice and clearomiser from the shelves!