It's all fresh! This Thursday, May 20, the European Commission has just published its report to the European Parliament on the application of Directive 2014/40 / EU on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products. If on the whole this report remains rather vague on the continuation which could be brought, some “points of improvement” are evoked for the future with regard in particular to the aromas and the youthfulness. Worse still, for the Commission, regulation should follow the legislation on pharmaceuticals.
This sentence in the report of the European Commission could by itself plunge all the work done on article 20 (which concerns vaping) into discredit. How is it still possible today to speak of nicotine as a simple “toxic” product? In its conclusion to the report, the European Commission goes even further, going so far as to offer the vape sector as a gift to the pharmaceutical industry.
» To the extent that electronic cigarettes are smoking cessation aids, their regulation should follow the legislation on pharmaceuticals. «
However, in the first place the European Commission seems to be satisfied with the respect of this article 20 in the Member States: " Overall, the record of Member States' implementation of certain provisions relating to electronic cigarettes is quite positive, with room for improvement in some other specific areas. Although manufacturers and importers submit notifications to the competent authorities in accordance with Article 20 (2), better information could be provided, in particular on toxicological data and constant doses of nicotine during consumption, for example example through standardization of evaluation methods. »
What the report points to is once again access to and promotion of vaping products among young people. Regarding advertising, the European Commission states that it remains difficult to enforce current legislation:
»Article 20, paragraph 5 (prohibition of commercial communications and sponsorship activities aimed at promoting electronic cigarettes) remains difficult to apply, especially in information society services and social media where young people are particularly exposed and targeted. ".
Following the cases of pneumopathies (EVALI) in the United States mainly and due to improper use of vaping equipment (with cannabis oil), the Commission seems to want to make a revolution for each product present in e-liquids: " In view of these events, it appears necessary to demonstrate the toxicological effects of the heated and inhaled forms of the ingredients of electronic cigarettes with and without nicotine (the latter not being regulated until now). »
In this latest Commission report, it is obviously a question of flavorings and in particular the link that this may have with consumption by young people:
» The industry is promoting electronic cigarettes as low risk products and as a smoking cessation aid. However, their popularity among young people is worrying. It is undeniable that the aromas present in e-liquids attract young people and adults. The younger generation makes significant use of non-traditional flavors, such as those of confectionery and fruit. These flavors strongly influence young people since they reduce their perception of the harmful nature of the product and increase their desire to try it. Member States are increasingly deciding to ban flavors in electronic cigarettes. " page (in French).
As risk reduction is not really a specialty of the European Union, the Commission points out in its report the lack of perspective on the effects of vaping:
» Opinions are divided as to the actual health effects of electronic cigarettes, with some considering them to be harmful and others considering the danger to the individual to be less compared to conventional smoking tobacco products. As scientific consensus has not yet been reached, the precautionary principle prevails and the TPD takes a cautious approach in the regulation of these products. " page (in French).
With this new report, the risk of crazy regulation is increasingly presenting itself to us. Strong regulation of e-liquids ? Prohibition of flavorings (or certain flavorings) ? Specific regulations classifying e-cigarettes as pharmaceutical products ? Everything seems possible in addition to the future taxation that seems to be looming. On our side, vigilance is required not to end up with a risk reduction product only available on prescription and without flavor.
To find out more, do not hesitate to consult the full report (20 pages) of the European Commission available here.