While the EU Commission has no immediate plans to review the regulation of electronic cigarettes within its revised Tobacco Products Directive, it will continue to monitor developments relating to the use of these products and will submit a report in 2021 in line with the requirements of the directive.
This was part of a Commission answer given in response to a question by the French member of the European Parliament, Jean-François Jalkh.
In a preamble to his question, Jalkh said that electronic cigarettes, which had been introduced in France in 2013, had become increasingly popular as a ‘scientifically-proven alternative to smoking’. ‘Studies and individual testimonies welcome the contribution made by e-cigarettes in helping people to cut down on smoking normal cigarettes, and even to quit altogether,’ he said.
‘However, the World Health Organization refuses to consider e-cigarettes as an alternative solution and is even encouraging Member States to increase the price of ordinary tobacco, which it believes to be the only way to tackle smoking addiction.
‘Contrary to what studies on e-cigarettes suggest, the EU and the WHO are together pursuing a punitive policy against the smoking population, favouring taxation over prevention and thus putting financial interests before public health.’
Jalkh asked: ‘In view of this state of affairs, will the EU ditch its crusade against the consumer in favour of a risk reduction policy?’
In response, the Commission said it was following closely developments related to electronic cigarettes, in particular any scientific evidence emerging on their use patterns, long-term health effects and potential to facilitate smoking cessation.
‘This evidence is currently inconclusive,’ the Commission said. ‘Indeed a recent Commission report COM(2016) 269 points to a number of potential risks to public health relating to the use of e-cigarettes whilst highlighting the need for further research.
‘Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive … adopts a precautionary approach to their regulation, introducing for the first time EU-wide safety and quality rules for e-cigarettes and refill containers. These rules nevertheless allow e-cigarettes to remain widely available to consumers.
‘The Commission has no immediate plans to review the regulation of e-cigarettes within Directive 2014/40/EU. It will continue to monitor developments relating to the use of these products and will submit a report in 2021 in line with Article 28(1)(g) of the Directive.’