Open letter from electronic cigarette users from across the European Union
Monday 08 July 2013Dear Mr Groote,
We are writing to you in your capacity as Chairman of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health, and
Food Safety Committee, as former tobacco smokers from across the EU who have quit or reduced smokingthrough the use of e-cigarettes.For between five and seven million people throughout the EU, e-cigarettes have and continue to provide a viablealternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. They have enabled them to leave smoking behind, either on a full or part-time basis. These people, like us, are now smoking far fewer or no cigarettes. Figures from the United Statesshow that in one year alone, Altria, the company behind cigarette brands like Malboro, saw a six and a half per centdecline in cigarette sales, directly attributed to a rise in the use of e-cigarettes. If e-cigarettes are allowed tocontinue to flourish, just imagine how many fewer cigarettes will be sold and lives saved as millions more peoplelike us switch from smoking tobacco cigarettes to using e-cigarettes.However, we are genuinely concerned that the positive story of e-cigarettes may be about to come to an abrupthalt. As you will be aware, proposals to amend the Tobacco Products Directive state that e-cigarettes should only beplaced on the market if they are authorised pursuant to Directive 2001/83/EC (the Medicinal Products Directive).By regulating e-cigarettes as a medicinal product, and by banning flavours, the Commission and its supporters inParliament and Council are effectively banning e-
cigarettes, as the Parliament’s own Legal Affairs Committee has
made clear.E-cigarettes are not a medicinal product and as users we do not see ourselves as ill or in treatment; we are not.We are adults and the e-cigarettes that we use are regulated as a consumer product by at least 17 Directives at theEU level and by a variety of other legislation at the Member State level. They are safe, by contrast tobaccocigarettes kill 700,000 people each and every year and neither the Commission nor Parliament is proposing to banthem!The key health benefit of e-cigarettes is determined by how many smokers switch to them or use them as a stagingpost to quitting completely. It is therefore vital that e-cigarettes continue to be regulated as a consumer product.Many of us have tried numerous times to quit smoking using conventional nicotine replacement therapies and havefailed, however with e-cigarettes we have all cut down our smoking or stopped completely.Without anyone in the professional public health field doing anything and without spending any public money,smokers like us have been quitting, switching, and cutting down through the use of e-cigarettes. This is somethingthat should be celebrated not a cause for concern.E-cigarettes are however not some form of more effective nicotine replacement therapy, they are totally different.E-cigarettes deliver clean nicotine
without the tar, carbon monoxide, and volatile hot gases of cigarettes
and asa way of taking nicotine they are pretty near harmless to health. In short, for people like us who switch fromcigarettes, they hugely reduce risk, while satisfying our need for nicotine and some of the behavioural aspects of smoking.We believe that making the informed choice of switching from smoking tobacco cigarettes to using e-cigarettes hasdramatically improved our health and our chances of living longer, healthier lives. With this in mind we would liketo ask members of your committee this very simple question. Why would the EU want to intervene to prevent or obstruct a smoker having access to products that could potentially save his or her life? The reality is that everybarrier placed in the way of e-cigarettes should be viewed in this light and with its consequences for health.