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European Parliament Set to Regulate Electronic Cigarettes

The European Union's proposed regulations could set a template for the rest of the world to follow.

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By Bryan Le

03/03/14

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The European Parliament is set to vote on a batch of regulations on Wednesday that will treat electronic cigarettes like regular tobacco products.

Starting in 2016, advertisements for e-cigs will be banned in all 28 nations of the European Union, just like tobacco ads. The packing must be childproof and have graphic health warning labels printed on them. Meanwhile, nicotine content will be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, same as tobacco cigarettes.

The European Union's large scale e-cigarette regulations could set a template for the rest of the world to follow. Many cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, have taken it upon themselves to regulate electronic cigarettes - which heat nicotine-infused propylene gycol into vapor - instead of waiting on the FDA's decision. 

The new e-regulations are part of a larger anti-smoking regulatory package, will which impose even more severe rules on tobacco cigarettes, including banning all kid-friendly flavors and requiring 65 percent of packaging to feature graphic health warnings and photos of diseased lungs. But the restrictions are not as tough on e-cigs as the parliament's original proposal, which would have treated the product as medicine.

“This is a victory,” said Linda McAvan, the British Labour Party member of the European Parliament. “The original proposal was stricter, and I would have voted for that, but the new law is anyway a huge step forward in tobacco control."

Tobacco and e-cigarette companies are of course unhappy about the measure. To Drago Azinovic, president of European operations for Phillip Morris International, the new regulation revamp “represents a worrying departure from the E.U.’s basic standards of proportionate, evidenced-based policy making, which will further erode intellectual property rights and undermine the E.U. charter where these rights are protected.”

While the new proposals do allow leeway for member states to classify e-cigarettes as quit-smoking products if they'd like, some members of the European parliament aren't happy with the outcome.

“This was a very bad agreement,” says Martin Callanan, a British Conservative Party politician who believes e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking. “It’s a massive loss for public health in Europe.”

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