Regulators and the compliance fallacy – buying 99% nicotine e-liquid from China

99% nicotine e-liquid bought from China

How easy will it be to sidestep European Union and U.S. FDA regulation? To find out, I bought some high strength e-liquid from the internet. The problem is that bad regulation doesn’t attract compliance, it attracts non-compliance. Continue reading “Regulators and the compliance fallacy – buying 99% nicotine e-liquid from China”

UK government e-cigarette impact assessment exposes failed and unlawful EU policy

New logo for the Department of Health?

The UK Department of Health has published an “Impact Assessment” to accompany its implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive (Tobacco and related product regulations, 2016).  As regular readers will know I think Article 20 dealing with e-cigarettes is useless and does little but protect the cigarette trade.  I can report that the new Impact Assessment supports that view – so here I provide a short review. Continue reading “UK government e-cigarette impact assessment exposes failed and unlawful EU policy”

Harmful and negligent to ignore unintended consequences of e-cigarette policies

Puzzled male shrugging wearing lab coat
Sorry mate, didn’t intend to kill you

In my paper on regulating recreational drugs: Harms or highs? Regulating narcotics, alcohol and nicotine (2015), I suggested, wishfully perhaps, there is rising awareness of the perils of unintended consequences from well-meaning but misguided policies:

“…there is growing recognition that much harm can be caused by the very policy interventions designed to address drug use, up to and including the destabilisation of entire ‘narco-states’ but including many counter-productive unintended consequences”

There is probably better recognition in illicit drugs policy, where the ‘war on drugs’ is increasingly recognised as a full-scale disaster.  But how is this question playing out for vaping?  Three recent studies should be giving pause for reflection and caution in ‘tobacco control’.  Continue reading “Harmful and negligent to ignore unintended consequences of e-cigarette policies”

Totally Wicked case: Advocate General’s flawed reasoning would protect the cigarette trade

Looking for justice? Keep walking.

Update: predictably on 4 May 2016, the judgement was announced and Totally Wicked’s case rejected in full. See judgement in case C‑477/14. No appeal is possible.  The basic problem is that the law depends on the science, bad science makes bad law, and the Commission and members states drew on bad science to defend this completely counterproductive law.  The court did add any value or interrogate the science.  The court has defended the status quo and the cigarette trade and shaped the e-cigarette market for the convenience of the tobacco companies. My full account of the case and its history is hereEnd of update.

On 23rd December, the Totally Wicked case against the EU tobacco products directive treatment of e-cigarettes suffered a setback at the European Court. The Advocate General, Dr Julianne Kokott issued her opinion on the case – this was hostile to the case and deeply disappointing. It confirmed my fear that good legal judgements could only be made with a sound grasp of the science, ethical issues and commerce of the products facing disproportionate regulation.  I think that was lacking in Dr Kokott’s opinion. I don’t think a line-by-line critique is worthwhile, but I do want to draw out what I consider are major flaws in her reasoning. This post covers:

Continue reading “Totally Wicked case: Advocate General’s flawed reasoning would protect the cigarette trade”

TPD implementation – maximising harm by going beyond the minimum

julie andrews
Caption contest: the hills are alive with the sound of…

It’s hard to keep up with the public health madness in Europe.  Not content with creating the worst EU Directive ever made, laden with unintended consequences, many member states are now working hard on compounding their error by gold-plating the directive’s wholly unjustified costs, burdens and limitations on e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco with additional measures that go beyond the minimum.

Professor Gerry Stimson and I have made a small effort of resistance – here are two submissions to the Austrian consultation on TPD implementation. Austria proposes to ban internet sales of e-cigarettes and to ban all forms of smokeless tobacco, not just snus. We have tried to place these in the wider context of harm reduction and unintended consequences of poor policy-making. Continue reading “TPD implementation – maximising harm by going beyond the minimum”

Escaping the EU directive on e-cigarettes


I’ve written  and presented many times on the utter mess the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD 2014/40/EU) has made of regulating low-risk alternatives to smoking: notably Article 20 that regulates e-cigarettes and Article 17 that bans snus.

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.

Here’re the escape routes I can think of. Continue reading “Escaping the EU directive on e-cigarettes”

Info post: EU legislative proposals for nicotine containing products (e-cigarettes)

Updated 20 December 2013. This post provides nine texts following the development of the TPD provisions for nicotine containing products – for information and without comment:

1. The Commission Proposal for Article 18 on Nicotine Containing Products, 19 December 2012.

2. The Council General Approach for Article 18 – an informal agreement between representatives of the member states, 21 June 2013.

3. The European Parliament’s amendment 170 for Article 18, 8 October 2013.

4. The Commission’s ‘suggested text’ from a ‘non-paper’ leaked to the Nicotine Science and Policy website undated but approximately 22 November 2013 (secret).

5. An update to the Commission’s suggested text published on 29 November 2013 (secret).

6. A further update Presidency / Commission text 6 December 2013 (secret).

7. A newly modified version of the Presidency / Commission negotiating text 10 December 2013 (secret)

8. Negotiating text 12 December 2013 (secret) – note PDF only

9. Text agreed by trilogue process and subsequently approved by COREPER 17 December (secret) – here

Continue reading “Info post: EU legislative proposals for nicotine containing products (e-cigarettes)”