South West Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson has warned that new measures to restrict the use of e-cigarettes could make it more difficult to give up smoking.
The European Parliament is due to vote on new rules for tobacco products in Strasbourg plenary session starting Monday (October 7). Part of the proposal includes regulating electronic cigarettes as medicinal products. This could significantly restrict their availability, making them even more difficult to obtain than conventional cigarettes.
Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament are challenging attempts by the Labour group to push through the vote restricting the product.
E-cigarettes are used by an estimated 1.3 million people across the UK and are widely recognised as being infinitely less harmful than tobacco. They have the potential to massively reduce the negative health impact of smoking for individuals and their families.
Cancer Research UK says that up to 60,000 lives could be saved over the decade through consumers switching to electronic cigarettes.
Commenting, Watson said: “It would be absolutely wrong for the EU to restrict new technologies that could help people stop smoking and reduce the damage that tobacco causes.
“This is about freedom of choice as much as saving lives. If a product can actually save lives, is well regulated and works, then why should we restrict its use?
“Regulating e-cigarettes as medical products and making them more difficult to obtain than normal cigarettes makes no sense whatsoever. We need to be making it easier for people to switch from cigarettes to less damaging alternatives, not putting obstacles in the way of people who want to quit.”
(from a press release)