The European Parliament has approved new e cigarette regulation that experts contend will impact pending FDA regulation in the US. Industry experts have been waiting for the first signs of exactly what form regulating the wild and chaotic electronic cigarette industry would take.
When those of us who have been following the electronic cigarette review the new legislation, there were few surprises. That being said, we now have a clearer picture of what the future will hold for the industry.
While the new European regulations are strict in many ways, the good news is that they will not be classified as a medical device. Had they been classified as a medical device, consumers would have had no choice but to exercise their option to vape by going through arduous and costly medically approved pathways and purchased their electronic cigarettes from a pharmacist. Fortunately, lawmakers avoided inflicting that particularly prohibitive barrier between smokers and a less harmful option.
The e cigarette regulation discussion will rage on, however, as far as European law is concerned the electronic cigarette will be treated very much like tobacco. For example, by mid 2016 e cigarette packaging will be required to print graphic health warnings. Electronic cigarette companies will also not be allowed to advertise. While classifying the electronic cigarette in the same category as tobacco is similar to classifying sautéed and lightly salted onions in the same category as greasy, deep fried onion rings, until more lawmakers actually take the time to acquaint themselves with the science and function of electronic cigarettes we will still see reactionary arguments swaying our elected officials to a great degree.
One aspect of the European parliaments decision that could prove especially problematic to smokers is the stipulation that e cigarette nicotine levels shall not exceed 20 mg. Nicotine satisfaction is critical for smokers seeking an alternative that satisfies cravings and a limited option may leave heavier smokers unsatisfied by their vaping experience. Cigarette manufacturers often include toxic chemicals specifically designed to quicken nicotine absorption so even a regular 18 mg cigarette actually requires an e cigarette nicotine level of 24 mg or more to match the sensation.
Ultimately the good news is that European smokers will have a less harmful option available. In many European countries, France for example, the use of tobacco is actually on the rise. Many e cigarette critics fear that smoking may become cool again because of electronic cigarettes and many more fear that the flavors can be a temptation to children but the fact is that tobacco still has a grasp on our society, young and old. Turning a blind eye to that reality has dire consequences. The availability of e cigarettes to adults assures that Europeans will be able to vape rather than smoke.