The Coalition Government has once again confirmed that they wish to pursue the medicinal regulation of electronic cigarettes, irrespective of the fact that a cross-party majority of MEPs recently voted against this and irrespective of the fact that medicinal regulations could be overturned in the courts.
Recently the Coalition Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, have been accused of failing to stand up to vested interests, be it the media, the banks, the tobacco industry or the energy companies. It could be argued that this is what is happening with e-cigarettes. Yet again the Coalition Government is failing to stand up to the vested interests of big tobacco and big pharma, both of whom have much to lose as a result of the success of e-cigarettes.
By contrast, the Labour Party Leader, Ed Milliband, has portrayed himself as someone who is willing to stand up for the little people and take on the vested interests. Will he now stand up to the tobacco industry and pharmaceutical lobby and save e-cigs?
It is difficult to understand why the Coalition Government is supporting the medicinal regulation of e-cigarettes, especially when Conservative and Liberal Democrat MEPs voted against it. More importantly, e-cigarettes are universally regarded as being a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes and their success has been consumer lead, with no taxpayer’s money being spent to promote them. The industry behind e-cigarettes is fast growing, innovative, and providing employment for growing numbers of people across the UK.
On the 8th of October MEPs voted to reject medicinal regulation, voting instead for amendment 170 which regulates e-cigarettes robustly as the consumer products that they are, it bans advertising and the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s.
Despite all of the above, the Coalition Government still pushes ahead with medicinal regulation. With medicinal regulation they will hand what is left of the e-cigarette industry over to big business. The smaller and more innovative SMEs that currently make up the bulk of the industry will all be forced to close with the obvious loss of thousands of jobs. Arguably more importantly, medicinal regulation, as the MHRA has confirmed, will remove all currently available e-cigarettes from the market, forcing vapers back to smoking tobacco cigarettes, a huge win for the tobacco industry.
Intended or not, these will be the consequences if the Coalition Government gets their way.
We are working very hard to try and get the Coalition Government to see sense and change their position before it is too late. Where does Labour stand on this issue? Will they support our campaign and stand up for the UK’s 1.5 million vapers against the vested interests of the pharmaceutical lobby and big tobacco?