Saturday 11 May 2013

Politics as it should be done

If only we had more politicians like Chris Davies MEP. He knew that the Tobacco Product Directive was being revised, but he knew nothing about e-cigarettes. So he decided to ask people to educate him. Now he knows a lot about e-cigarettes and will be responding to the European Commission accordingly.

Until a few months ago I had never heard of e-cigarettes. Since then I have had many letters and e-mails from users, have met with manufacturers, and have read widely on the subject. I am convinced that they can play a very effective role in helping confirmed smokers reduce or eliminate their dependence upon tobacco. Although the long term effects of using e-cigarettes has yet to be established it seems very likely to me that their use, rather than the continued smoking of cigarettes, is likely to be much less harmful to health and will prolong lives.

I am opposed to the introduction of restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes by adults.

The European Commission has emphasised that it does not wish to ban the products but only to require them to be classified as medicines. However, this route involves significant costs and potential restrictions on their development and sale. It is true that e-cigarettes can be used as a medicinal nicotine replacement therapy but they can also be considered as a recreational drug like alcohol or tobacco cigarettes, albeit one which appears to be very much less harmful. It is the fact that they are said to be pleasurable to use that makes them so effective as a means of combatting addictive use of tobacco. I cannot see any value in allowing it to be easier for conventional cigarettes to be sold than e-cigarettes.

I am also opposed to the introduction of restrictions on the nicotine content of e-cigarettes. The user is the best person to judge what level of nicotine is appropriate to meet their needs, although clear information should be provided and the purity of the contents guaranteed.

I have tabled a series of amendments along these lines. I do believe that the Commission should review the properties of e-cigarettes and, if necessary, put forward separate proposals at a later date, and I do believe that the products should be labelled to point out that nicotine is addictive and may harm health, but this amounts to light-touch regulation not the heavy handed approach currently being pursued.

Well done, sir.

Other politicians take note. Representative democracy is not rocket science.

Go read the whole thing.


Ivan D said...

Thank heavens that he didn't ask CRUK to "educate" him. The only thing that pops up from a search for e-cigs on its heavily politicized website is a news story about claims for Nicolites being banned.

One reason that e-cigs are so successful is because they are not seen as medical and are not touted by CRUK tobacco control spin doctors. I am delighted that at least one MEP understands that.

V said...

Is this the first actually liberal "Lib Dem"? *shock*