On Wednesday, in accordance with the European Parliament’s Rule 70.5, the single vote on the revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will take place in the Parliament’s Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (ENVI) committee.
This will be the first time MEPs have had an opportunity to express a formal opinion on the TPD since the historic vote on the 8th of October last year.
As Martin Callanan MEP so clearly set out on these pages recently, a simple majority of ENVI committee members is needed for the committee’s consent on the negotiated text.
If the report is adopted in the ENVI committee with less than one-tenth of members voting against, (7 MEPs), the TPD will go to vote in plenary under Rule 138.
This will mean that the TPD will be subject to a single vote.
However, this could change if, before the drawing up of the final draft agenda, political groups or individual MEPs who together constitute one-tenth of all MEPs, (76 in total), request in writing that the TPD be open to amendment, in which case the Parliament’s President shall set a deadline for the tabling of amendments.
As vapers and scientists made clear last week, and as manufacturers will make clear this week, the TPD in its current incarnation is deeply flawed. Clive Bates has drawn our attention to just one of these flaws on his excellent blog, and this is just one example drawn from a very long list. We have arrived at this situation primarily because the current version of the TPD, and in particular Article 18, was drafted on the hoof, behind closed doors, and without any consultation with those who will be impacted by this directive.
Like many others, Save E-cigs has come to the conclusion that if Article 18 cannot be significantly amended, then it should be removed from the TPD. Not all MEPs will wish to amend the TPD; some who previously campaigned on our behalf now believe that they have done all they can, and those who have always been against us are unlikely to support us now. That said, a number of MEPs do want to at least try to have Article 18 amended. Like us they see it as unworkable. They recognise that it could lead to a ban on refillables, and that with a ban on certain currently available nicotine strengths, they worry that e-cigarettes may cease to be as effective and therefore will be seen as a less attractive alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Those MEPs who seek reform are supported by industry, the independent scientific/public health community, and most importantly, upwards of 12 million vapers from every corner of the European Union.
If any credibility is to be salvaged from this whole process, it is vital that these views are allowed to be heard in the European Parliament, even if ultimately they are voted down. We, the ones who will have to live with the consequences of Article 18 should be given our opportunity to have our say and to have our arguments articulated by our democratically elected supporters in the European Parliament.
MEPs on the ENVI committee therefore have a wider obligation not only in ensuring they do not deny or make it harder for their colleagues to table amendments to the TPD if they so wish, but more importantly a duty to a very fundamental matter. In October a majority of their MEP colleagues from across the political spectrum voted in favour of amendment 170. It is therefore their basic duty as members on the ENVI committee to ensure that the wishes of the majority are reflected in their vote. The TPD amendment that is in front of the ENVI Committee is significantly different from amendment 170, and therefore no matter what individual members may feel personally or politically, the ENVI Committee can only, if it is to maintain its integrity and authority vote against the tabled Trilogue changes.
The easiest way for this to happen is for all members of the ENVI committee to vote unanimously to reject the TPD. In laying aside their personal views on the TPD, ENVI members will make it easier for amendments to be tabled ahead of the final vote in plenary in March and will therefore be doing their colleagues and vapers across the EU a great service.
We urge all readers to contact members of the ENVI committee ahead of Wednesday’s vote asking them to vote reject the TPD.
You can find a full list ENVI committee members and their contact details here.