Published in The Financial Times today, a letter signed by eminent Independent European Public Health Experts
E-cigarettes are helping smokers
From Prof Gerry Stimson and others.
Sir, Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the EU: 29 per cent of adults smoke, with 700,000 premature deaths each year. While conventional stop-smoking approaches have lingered, e-cigarettes are helping smokers move to a safer alternative with an estimated 7m-12m users in the EU.
The positive story of the e-cigarette could soon come to an abrupt end. The EU Tobacco Products Directive proposed to regulate e-cigarettes as medicines. Medicines regulation is costly, lengthy, anti-competitive and stifles innovation. It would drive most current products off the market. The European parliament turned down this proposal, favouring consumer regulation. The European Commission now proposes an amendment that defines e-cigarettes as tobacco-related products (which they are not) and includes: bans on flavourings (an important part of the user experience); arbitrary low limits on strength and content of nicotine allowed; bans on refillable products (which many consumers prefer); and advertising bans the same as for tobacco cigarettes. These proposals would limit the market and consumer appeal.
Regulating e-cigarettes in this way would make it easier to market tobacco cigarettes than the much safer e-cigarettes. We urge the European parliament to resist this attempt to introduce medicines regulation by the back door.
Prof Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor, Imperial College London, UK
Prof Peter Hajek, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and Queen Mary University, London, UK
Dr Lynne E Dawkins, University of East London, UK
Dr Miroslaw Dworniczak, Poznan, Poland
Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, Greece and University Hospital Gathuisberg, Belgium
Prof Riccardo Polosa, Director of the Institute for Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology, University of Catania, Italy
Dr Michal Kozlowski, eSmoking Institute, Poznan, Poland
Prof Demetrios Kouretas, School of Health Sciences and Vice Rector of University of Thessaly, Greece
Dr Jacques Le Houezec, Consultant in Public Health, Rennes, France
Dr Gérard Mathern, Saint-Chamond, France
Dr Philippe Presles, Institut Moncey, Paris, France
Prof Andrzej Sobczak, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland
Prof Aristides Tsatsakis, University of Crete, Greece