The preliminary scientific opinion is open for consultation responses until 26 October 2020. The consultation system is here: Public consultation on electronic cigarettes and looks designed to deter responses to the extent possible. ETHRA, European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates, provides guidance on responding here. However, that is not the only way to respond to it, though responding directly is important. Another way is to approach the people who are intended to make sense of and use the opinion – policymakers in EU member states and European Commission, politicians in the EU legislature, and stakeholders in the political policymaking process. This post is for them.
In this post, I discuss why the SCHEER preliminary opinion offers no useful analysis or relevant insights to policymakers. It is not that the committee has not reviewed a lot of literature: it has. It stems from a more fundamental problem: a failure to frame the scientific knowledge in a way that will assist policymakers in considering what, if anything, to do next. Though policymakers should be the primary audience, the report also provides little of value to other communities of interest – smokers, vapers, parents, public health or medical practitioners, or businesses.
New Nicotine Alliance proposes that the forthcoming Great Repeal Act is used to repeal pointless, burdensome and restrictive EU regulation of e-cigarettes and to lift the illegal, unethical and anti-scientific ban on snus. This may be a ‘quick win’ from Brexit at the point of the departure of the UK from the EU. The government will need to show that there are at least some benefits.
The Great Repeal Act will not actually repeal that much of substance. It will mainly just convert the vast body of EU law that applies in the UK to domestic law. But there is scope for some crowd-pleasing repeals of especially poor regulation, of which the TPD provisions related to tobacco harm reduction are the most obvious candidate.
Good news confirmed today: Swedish Match, the main European snus manufacturer, will take legal action to overturn the European Union ban on snus -see Reuters 1 July 2016: Swedish Match to challenge EU snus ban in UK court. This ban is possibly the most absurd and harmful piece of legislation the European Union has ever concocted, and its demise is long overdue.
It’s a massive decision with thousands of implications not easily recognised or understood. I want people to make the right decision, which I think is remain. Though I know a lot about this I don’t want anyone to take my word for it. So I’ve drafted up some questions to help you explore and challenge your own views. Continue reading “Thinking of a Brexit vote? Consider these questions”
Concerns raised in Parliament  about the EU rules are not borne out by the ASH Smokefree GB Adult Survey. Only 9% of vapers report using e-liquid containing 19mg/ml or more of nicotine (the limit set by the EU Tobacco Products Directive is 20mg/ml).
Okay, here are some thoughts on ‘Brexit’ (British exit from the European Union), which is the subject of a UK referendum to be held on 23 June 2016. I’ve added a discussion on implications for vaping and the TPD.
My view… there is a lot to dislike about the EU: it can be unaccountable, incompetent, over-reaching, arrogant, lawless, captured and dishonest. The more you have to do with it, as we saw recently with the EU Tobacco Products Directive, the more appalling it looks. We witnessed the unedifying spectacle of the amateurish drafting of incompetent but irreversible legislation that will affect millions with no apparent concern for science or evidence while blatantly disregarding even the modest procedural requirements of the EU treaties to consult, prepare impact assessments and minimise burdens. Is anyone accountable? If everyone is, no-one is.
So why am I in favour of the UK remaining in the EU?
EU legislation is especially ill-suited to regulating new disruptive and controversial technologies that regulators don’t understand – see my discussion of regulating disruptive technology. Directives are produced by a kind of committee pinball game that reflect prejudices, esoteric beliefs and haggling of people with little knowledge of what they are dealing with and no accountability for the outcome or damage done. But once agreed, they are really hard to reverse or amend, and they are a good reason to do only what is necessary at European level.