Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

E-cigarette restrictions ‘would not break EU law’, advocate general says

Manufacturers say EU rulings limiting advertising and strengths of electronic cigarettes, due next year, will damage industry

Rules on e-cigarette production, sales and marketing due to come into force across Europe next year are relatively moderate and would not break European law, a senior legal officer at the European court of justice has said.

The opinion of the advocate general, Juliane Kokott, is a severe blow to e-cigarette manufacturers who have claimed the new rules risk the future of the nicotine-based products, even though the NHS has said they are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

The opinion does not mean the court will automatically dismiss the legal challenge headed by Blackburn-based Totally Wicked, and supported by other manufacturers, but most judgments later endorse the position of advocate generals. The ruling in this case is expected early next year.

Totally Wicked, which also operates in the US and Germany, has argued the limits on the size of bottles of e-liquids, restrictions on nicotine strengths and curbs on advertising and sponsorship, plus other measures, would damage an emerging industry and make it subject to more stringent regulation than some tobacco products.

Kokott’s opinion, summarised in a court press statement, is that the rules are relatively moderate compared with those for tobacco products. It emphasised that e-cigarettes are, for large parts of the population, “still relatively little known products for which there is a rapidly developing market”.

She said it is not unreasonable or wrong to accept that e-cigarettes possibly cause risks to human health and that they “could – above all in the case of adolescents and young adults – develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, traditional tobacco consumption”.

Ian Gregory, a leader of the 100K group, representing several independent e-cigarette companies, claimed that if the court backed their legal officer, vapers would start playing “a game of ‘Brexit poker’” by threatening to vote to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum unless there was a British opt-out on the issue.

“Britain’s vapers are determined to save the devices which they believe save their lives,” he said.

Dan Marchant, owner of the e-cigarette retailer Vape Club, which is part of the group, said there was little awareness of how the new rules would damage the industry. “Nearly every current device could become illegal.”

Fraser Cropper, Totally Wicked’s managing director, said: “This is not a formal decision, nor a legal judgment on the questions we raised in our challenge … It is not binding on the judges.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>