The EU Commission has said that it will continue to monitor developments relating to the use of electronic cigarettes and submit a report in 2021 as it is required to do under the Tobacco Productions Directive.
This was part of an answer given to a question raised by the French MEP Joëlle Mélin on the future of electronic cigarettes.
In a preamble to her question, Mélin said in part that though electronic cigarettes and e-liquids did not contain any tobacco, these devices and the products associated with them were included in the directive.
‘Placing electronic cigarettes — which do not burn or contain tobacco — in the same category as traditional cigarettes only dissuades smokers from turning to less harmful alternatives, which could amount to a direct contradiction of the Commission’s stated objective of public health protection,’ she said.
‘Given, then, that Commission studies (COM (2016) 269) have shown that “vaping” is not dangerous, that more than 21 percent of users have managed to cut down on their tobacco consumption, and 14 percent have given up tobacco altogether (2016 Eurobarometer survey), does the Commission intend to review the inclusion of electronic cigarettes in the Tobacco Directive,” she asked.
In its reply, the Commission said that, taking into account the characteristics, and in particular the nicotine content of e-cigarettes, it was deemed appropriate to consider them as tobacco-related products and to include them in the scope of the directive.
‘Given the lack of conclusive evidence relating to the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, their use patterns and potential to facilitate smoking cessation, Article 20 of the directive adopts a precautionary approach to their regulation which places an emphasis on safety, quality and consumer protection,’ the commission said.
‘The rules for e-cigarettes nevertheless allow these products to remain widely available to consumers.
‘The Commission report COM (2016) 2692 does not conclude that vaping is risk free; it points to a number of potential risks to public health relating to the use of e-cigarettes whilst highlighting the need for further research.
‘The Commission has no immediate plans to review the regulation of e-cigarettes within Directive 2014/40/EU, the provisions of which began to be applied on 20 May 2016.
‘It will continue to monitor developments relating to the use of these products and will submit a report in 2021 as required under Article 28(1) of the Directive.’