|Matt Ridley - the man we can thank for this |
debate in the House of Lords
In December 2015 David Cameron became the first world leader to endorse e-cigarettes. He told a packed House of Commons that they were "a very legitimate path" which had helped a million people in the UK to quit tobacco smoking (http://100thousand.com/).But now it seems British politicians have taken this some huge steps further and fully joined the pro-vaping forces in this war. In a debate in the House of Lords the EU TPD was, as Christopher Snowdon puts it, savaged. I think the transcript, video and summaries of the debate says it all so I'm not going to comment any further, and to be honest I'm a bit lost for words... in a good way.
Political support for the TPD among Westminster politicians has close to disappeared. All that is left is the legal shell (Ashtray blog)You can find a summary, note and transcript on the Ashtray blog, and Christopher Snowdon has also published the transcript and taken the time to highlight some of the best parts and added a couple of comments. I recommend reading the whole thing through as it is indeed some of the most enjoyable reading I've done in quite some time. There is also a video of the debate available on youtube. I've picked out a couple of my favourite quotes below.
Thankfully—and my noble friends will know how painful it is for me to say this—the European Parliament voted down the folly of exclusive medicinal regulation, but it did not vote down the rest of Article 20 of the tobacco products directive which, in that wonderfully undemocratic way, is now being forced upon us. The truth is that these regulations were scripted in Brussels by pharmaceutical companies desperately trying to protect the sales of their widely unloved nicotine replacement therapies. What we have before the House is still a piece of legislation that is not fit for purpose. When even the Department of Health says that it risks increasing smoking, we know that we are facing a moral responsibility as legislators to review this in great detail. It most certainly should not just be nodded through.
- Matt Ridley
Nevertheless, we ended up with this directive. It was a messy compromise and it is very badly worded, but it is a lot better than it could have been had we not campaigned on it. My noble friend Lord Ridley is quite right to point out the somewhat murky role of various pharmaceutical interests in the production of the directive. When I asked questions in the Commission and the Council—it seemed to me self-evident that these devices were brilliant for reducing tobacco smoking, which I thought was what we all wanted—I asked why they were even in the directive in the first place, given that it is called a tobacco products directive and e-cigarettes are not tobacco products in any sense of the word. The answer I received many times was that this was argued for by the pharmaceutical industry, which would have an awful lot to lose if e-cigarettes supplanted or replaced nicotine patches and gum. I do not know the truth of that, but it seems that it was very successful in getting what it wanted.
- Martin Callanan (who was an MEP at the time the TPD was created)
This is truly a terrible piece of legislation, and I plead guilty for the part I played in helping to produce it in the first place. However, it is not too late to undo some of that harm and to help encourage the taking up of e-cigarettes and, consequently, a reduction in tobacco consumption. Instead of trying to restrict e-cigarettes, the Government should in fact be trying positively to encourage them.
- Martin Callanan
I certainly hope that enforcement will be more Italian than traditionally British, if I may put it that way.As I said, I'm a bit lost for words, but I believe a big thanks to the British is in order. From the trends I've seen in the UK lately, I suspect, and I hope this is not the last time I send a big fat THANK YOU across the North Sea. Again, I encourage you to read the whole transcript or watch the video... there is a lot of goodies in there.
- David Prior (Health Minister)