A triumph for vapers, smokers and (most importantly) common sense: the European Parliament rejected the medicinal regulation for e-cigarettes

 

 

By Dr Farsalinos

In what should be considered a historic moment, the European Parliament rejected the proposal of the ENVI committee to regulate e-cigarette as medications. The decision allows some regulation (which is of course essential) without jeopardizing the existence, evolution and accessibility of e-cigarettes.

This decision is of outmost importance. There was a strong “fight” over the past months about the issue of e-cigarettes. From uncertainty about safety to discussion about targeting youngsters and non-smokers, the situation was confusing and it was evident that regulators had little understanding about the nature and the potential of e-cigarettes. The decision of the ENVI committee to go for medicinal regulation was fundamentally wrong. They ignored the fact that e-cigarettes are not used as medications. There is no standardized dose, there is no standardized device and there is no standardized method of intake or nicotine absorption. Every vaper uses the e-cigarette according to his self-controlled need for nicotine and according to perceived pleasure. Flavorings are essential. A lot of vapers use different flavors even within the same day. The dynamic of the product is evident from the development of e-cigarette users’ forums, consumer associations actively involved in defending their right to use a less harmful alternative to smoking and advocate groups trying to clarify and educate about the role and patterns of use of e-cigarettes. The e-cigarette represented a completely new era in tobacco harm reduction, which took almost everyone by surprise.

The decision is just the beginning of a long battle to make sure that the best products are available from all manufacturers. The term “best” does not apply to the taste or the design and appearance. It applies to quality in terms of materials and production process. Currently, almost no testing is performed on safety or quality of materials, because none is obliged to. Is this a responsible stance? Of course it is not. Cases like AEMSA (a non-profit association founded by volunteers-vapers who should be considered pioneers in developing standards in production process and materials) or a small list of companies who have tested and presented their results in public are pure exceptions to the rule. That is why some kind of regulation should be implemented. Vapers should more aggressively request that tests are performed and are presented in public. They are the force which will push companies to comply with their responsibilities and provide high quality products. Companies have to prove, rather than just advertise, that their products are of high quality. Moreover, research is now needed more than ever. There are still black spots in the field of e-cigarettes. There are no studies on materials, plastics and metals that are more appropriate for use in e-cigarettes, do not interact with e-liquids and do not emit toxic chemicals (or emit the lowest possible). We should not use as an excuse that any kind of e-cigarette or e-liquid will be better than smoking. We should look for the best possible, for the least harmful and for development of more efficient products. While there is still a lot to learn, none can deny the potential of the e-cigarette to be a revolution in reducing smoking-related disease. The decision to reject medicinal regulation is a big step for allowing e-cigarettes to play their role in tobacco harm reduction, but everyone must stand-up to this challenge and prove that this was the right choice.

 

Dr Farsalinos is a researcher at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens-Greece and at Medical Imaging Research Center, University Hospital Gathuisberg in Leuven-Belgium. He is actively involved in research on e-cigarettes’ safety and risk

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