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New Directive Shows EU Plans to Ban E-Cigarette Cartridges and E-Liquid

E-cigarettes have been under fire from all sides for some time now, but the European vaping community has been dealt a serious blow recently – a new tobacco product directive plans to ban the sale of nicotine products with a concentration higher than 4mg/ml, in the European Union.

European Union flagAt the end of 2012, a new EU tobacco product directive was released to the public. Among other things, it stipulates that electronic cigarettes will remain available on the market, as long as they come with cartridges containing e-liquid with a nicotine concentration of up to 4mg/ml. Anything above that must be authorized as a medical products in order to be allowed. E-cigarettes are NOT medical products, but if that were the only way vapers could have access to them, then so be it. Only it’s not that simple. Getting e-cigarettes approved as nicotine replacement therapy would cost millions of euros and take several years, during which time they would be off the market and the powers that be would probably make sure they would never return. And there’s really no guarantee e-cigs would ever get the approval…

So why not ban electronic cigarettes entirely, right, why go just after the e-liquid. Well, because banning the hardware is a lot more complicated, and could be appealed at the EU High Court, whereas a ban against the e-liquid is much easier to impose and a lot more efficient, as well. But hey, a 4mg nicotine juice is better than no juice at all, right? Not really, at least not for 99% of vapers who actually use e-cigarettes to keep their nicotine craving under control. Medium strength e-liquid is around 10 mg, and the strong goes all the way up to 24 mg, so 4 mg isn’t going to help much to keep them from going back to smoking. Nicotine concentration just isn’t high enough for the vast majority of e-cig users, so they’ll probably be force to either go back to analogs or try medicinal alternatives instead, which is probably the goal of this initiative. Sadly, pharmaceutical nicotine replacement therapies fail in over 90% of cases…

So what effects can we expect to see when this new tobacco directive is adopted by the European Parliament? While many casual vapers will probably just switch back to analog cigarettes, there will still be a demand for regular e-liquid, so we’ll probably witness the birth of a black market, one that doesn’t have to abide by any rules or regulations. In high concentrations, nicotine can be a very dangerous drug, not to mention the hygiene-related conditions that have to be met by this kind of product. Local vendors will have to either close up shop or move their businesses to non-EU countries and raise the price of their merchandise, and the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries will see their profits grow even more…

The only relatively positive news is that the new law is not going to be adopted immediately. The new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, Tonio Borg, wants to have it approved before 2014, when Parliament membership changes, which means it may come into effect sometime in 2015. This means there is still time to protest against these measures and make sure lawmakers know where the public stands. It’ll be hard, even if proof of electronic cigarettes’ positive effects on users are obvious, but vapers have to fight for their rights!


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