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British MP seeks to free fruit, vegetables and e-cigs from EU shackles

Christopher Chope MP - Wikimedia CommonsA new bill before the British parliament would exempt e-cigarettes from the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

The legislation introduced by member of parliament Christopher Chope, a noted right-winger and champion of Britain’s departure from the European Union, is highly unlikely to succeed – but it could provide an opportunity for the industry to have some of the issues facing it discussed in the UK parliament.

The bill, Electronic Cigarettes (Regulation) Bill 2017-19, was  presented to parliament earlier this week (5th September). It is now expected to be debated more fully on  20th October.

The bill was proposed by Chope, member of parliament (MP) for Christchurch in Dorset, through a  procedure known as presentation of private members’ bills. This allows individual politicians to introduce legislation without going through any of the political parties.

A summary of the bill stated that it is intended “to make provision for the regulation of the sale and use of electronic cigarettes; to exempt electronic cigarettes from UK law derived from the Tobacco Products Directive; and for connected purposes”.

Further information on what it could contain is currently unavailable and may never be known, as an MP only “needs to provide its short title (by which it is known) and its long title (which describes briefly what it does)”, according to an official parliamentary description of the procedure. “Complete texts are not necessary and some Private Members’ Bills are never published in full.”

Still, the chance for industry issues to be presented to parliament should be welcomed, according to a spokesperson for the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA).

“We are of course very pleased that this matter will be debated in parliament. In the government’s recently published Tobacco Control Plan they have committed to review the vaping related regulations in the EU Tobacco Products Directive, with a view to deregulation,” the UKVIA spokesperson told ECigIntelligence. “Any attention this issue receives in parliament is to be welcomed.”

Whatever it does contain, the Chope bill would only affect the UK transposition of the TPD, and have no effect at pan-European level or in other EU member states.

Chope is a member of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on e-cigarettes, and it is thought that information from APPG missives may have encouraged him to include vaping in his list of Brexit-inspired legislative proposals.

 

Taking back control

 

Chope proposed the e-cig bill along with 46 others. He took turns camping out for four days with a fellow Conservative Party MP, Peter Bone,  in order to be first in a literal queue for submitting the bills to be debated.

The UK’s House of Commons will now have to dedicate some time to discussing each of the proposed bills. Chope and Bone together submitted 73 proposals between them, but only 13 days are allocated to debating these bills in this legislative session.

The pair submitted proposals ranging from serious, to whimsical (a Brexit bank holiday on 23rd June to celebrate the vote to leave the EU), to the seemingly farcical (the Fruit and Vegetables (Classification) Bill).

The fruit bill enables the UK to independently classify fruit in terms of flavour, condition and size for the purposes of sale. It is widely believed that the EU interferes with what produce can and cannot be sold in Britain, despite this myth being roundly debunked time and time again.

Private members’ bills are generally perceived as having little impact on actual regulation. However, more than 10% (295 out of 282) made it into law between 1983 and 2010, according to reports.

Chope did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

 

What This Means: It’s been speculated that Chope and Bone swamped the private members’ bill route with as many proposals as they could in order to protest what they see as an inefficient parliamentary system. Both MPs are now on a committee that oversees parliamentary rules and have previously tried to reform the private members’ bill system.

Whatever their motives, though, a debate before the House of Commons on vaping issues may still be a positive for the industry – particularly given the continued lack of knowledge concerning vaping among law-makers. We will cover the parliamentary debate, if one ever happens.

– Freddie Dawson ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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