David Dorn examines all the reasons the EU parliamentary circus needs to completely re-think its approach to the Revisions to the TPD with regard to Electronic Cigarettes.
First, my declarations of interest. I am a vaper, of nearly five years standing. In that time I have not smoked a tobacco cigarette, yet I do not consider myself to be a quitter. I have continued using Nicotine, my recreational drug of choice, but have reduced the risks associated with its use – the very risks Big Public Health has bombarded me with for over thirty years.
You’d think, therefore, that Big Public Health would be not only massively chuffed for me, but would welcome my new habit as a substitute for the old one – the one they keep telling has a 50/50 chance of killing me – and support me spreading the word.
You’d think the likes of Cancer Research UK, ASH UK and the BMA would be pinning pictures of e-cigs to their walls, telling everyone how marvellous they are, and talking to their cronies in both Westminster and the EU Parliamentary circus to get them to make sure they’re more available than tobacco cigarettes, more sexy, advertised more widely and generally surrounded by the kind of buzz that has people saying “I want one of those”.
You’d think that Tonio Borg, the EU Commissioner responsible for the Revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive, would be sitting with a smile on his face typing into the text of the RTPD “we need to get these things on every shop shelf in Europe, in more places than you can buy tobacco cigarettes, and make them so appealing that everyone will want one.
But no. Despite some of the less extreme members of Big Public Health acknowledging that Nicotine and Caffeine are as alike as those two Irish Pop Stars – you know the ones – their colleagues continue to paint Nicotine as “highly addictive” “poisonous” “dangerous” and, in some particularly bizarre cases “carcinogenic”.
They are being ignorant – either wittingly or unwittingly.
And yet further no. Some of the members of Big Public Health preach the mantra of “re-normalisation of smoking behaviours” (that last word has recently been tacked on to their little phrase, because they KNOW e-cigs don’t re-normalise smoking). They just don’t get that, if Nicotine and Caffeine are like two peas in a pod in almost all respects, there is no problem with any amount of people enjoying either or both in whatever form. As “addictions” go, we’re probably talking a “habit” rather than all-out heebie-jeebies brought on by withdrawal and relapse.
One wonders what THEIR drug of choice is? A nice fruity red? A sharp white? A blue WKD?
And even more no. Even in the EU Parliament, there are MEPs who should know better who are, even as I type, being misled by Big Public Health and, in this case, Big Tobacco, who are trying to get them to knuckle under to a particularly insidious plan allegedly hatched by the Lithuanian Presidency and the Commission which would see every e-cig device that actually works and satisfies taken off the market, and only utterly crapulous looky-likey disposables left to be sold in, well, God only knows where, because they won’t be advertised, can’t be talked about, can’t have forums and, well, just won’t exist as far as non-voters are aware.
They need to wake up. They need to realise that they are being blackmailed by the notion that the TPD will not get through in this parliament unless they give in on the completely stupid, crass and unworkable proposals the Presidency and Commission has tabled.
Here’s an idea. Keep the rest of the TPD. It’s a mess, but obviously makes somebody happy. But take Article 18 out, and resolve to build a proper, bespoke regulatory framework for e-cigs and other nicotine containing products.
If they buckle, if they cave, if they wimp out, they will be jointly responsible for the biggest Public Health dividend ever imagined disappearing in a puff of (Big Tobacco) smoke.
They can’t want that, can they?