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Does the European Parliament Have Its Head Up Its Butt?

by Steve Barrett

Does the European Parliament  Have Its Head Up Its Butt?

The European Parliament endorsed two pieces of draft legislation this week. One makes complete sense and the other seems to make no sense what-so-ever.

A law ensuring 65% of all tobacco based ‘traditional’ cigarette packaging must carry health warnings is sensible and welcomed by anyone outside of the tobacco industry. Tobacco cigarettes kill – the toxins and carcinogenic compounds, which number over 4000, do untold damage to the body and wreck lives.

The second part of the legislation which would regulate electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and e-liquids as medicines or even tobacco products is categorically absurd.

The decision is even more unfathomable when you consider that 15 prominent EU scientists have stated to the Commission that "If wisely regulated, e-cigarettes have the potential to make cigarettes obsolete and save millions of lives worldwide," as mentioned by journalist Andy Cochlan in his review of the EU action in the New Scientist. The scientists have accused the EU regulators of misinterpreting their results. The favourable arguments made by the scientists for e-cigarettes and vaping include:

  • The misinterpretation of results comes from outdated information and overestimation of the toxicity of nicotine
  • The proposal would, unnecessarily, restrict the nicotine content in the liquids. The current assumptions are based on self-experiments reported in a pharmacology textbook published in 1856.
  • The existing data does NOT show that using electronic cigarettes leads to traditional tobacco cigarette smoking and evidence does suggest that the devices help ‘smokers of all ages reduce or give up tobacco smoking’.

In Ireland, Health Minister James Reilly is still reviewing his stance on electronic cigarettes, but is set to legislate that they should only be available to over 18’s. Any responsible e-cigarette business in Ireland would agree with this legislation and would not want to see the products in the hands of minors.

However, before any further regulatory decisions are made it is purplebox’s opinion that Dr. Reilly should engage with the Irish vaping community. Listen to the current scientific findings, invite medical professionals to state their opinions both for and against, talk to the distributors and allow e-cigarette and vaping enthusiasts to state their case.

It is acknowledged that research on the long-term effects of inhaling VG and PG in the juices and vapourising nicotine are still being researched – but it would be irresponsible to legislate on a worst case scenario when the facts are unknown. Legislating now could destroy the possibility of writing sensible legislation when the true findings become available.

We believe much of the political thought process is being governed by the fact that e-cigarettes are associated with their conventional alternatives. It is accepted, by all parties, that nicotine is an addictive drug, a hormonal stimulus that affects the neurotransmitters of the brain, forcing the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals – hence the addictive effects as the brain wishes to repeat the feeling.

Caffeine and alcohol have similar effects on the brain and we can’t help thinking that this debate would be null and void if nicotine was simply a drink ingredient. Tobacco cigarettes are toxic and carcinogenic – but it is not the nicotine that makes them so.

Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are legal drugs – and abuse of any drug is dangerous but evidence is mounting that vapourising nicotine will not cause as much damage as long-term alcohol use, for example.

E-cigarettes and vaping will not stop a person smoking – they have to make that decision for themselves. No e-cigarette manufacturer or distributor is making the claim that the products are a cessation device but they are a much healthier nicotine delivery system. As such, adults should be able to make a personal decision as to their method of stimulation. Do non-drinkers lobby for the closing of all pubs and bars, of course not, because if you want alcohol that is your personal choice.

Regulating electronic cigarettes as a medicine or a tobacco product, when no tobacco is even present, would be a mistake. Legislation should be based on the product itself, not on its connotation or associations. As a medical professional Dr. Reilly should be supporting the growing vaping community and looking to move all smokers towards this revolution, which will save the health system millions of Euro in the future.

It is our responsibility as vapers to lobby the minister with the facts and ensure vaping remains a viable and accessible alternative to ex-smokers and new vapers alike.

Next time a TD knocks on your door around election time make your views known – or better still, start your letter to the Minister today.

Tell us your thoughts and we’ll start compiling a log of pro-vaping arguments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Steve Barrett
Steve Barrett

Author



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