European vaping industry to lobby MEPs of all political hues in next EU Parliament

The European vaping industry will address all new members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) after elections in June, regardless of their political affiliation, as both support and opposition to nicotine-based alternatives to smoking comes from all factions.

Ciprian Boboi (pictured), board member and co-founder of the Independent European Vape Alliance (IEVA), representing vaping businesses who operate in the EU, is convinced that lobbying decision-makers in all political groups is of crucial importance for the adoption of harm-reduction policies in Europe.

“By putting forward science-based arguments to promote harm reduction, we intend to reach out to all MEPs willing to make a difference to improve Europeans’ public health – regardless of political affiliation,” Boboi told ECigIntelligence.

“It is important to note that interest in and support for harm-reduction policies transcend party lines,” he added, “as MEPs expressing support for the public health opportunities brought by vaping hail from all European political groups, and so do opponents to vaping.”


Will elections affect the vaping industry?


According to Boboi, it is still impossible to predict how the composition of the renewed European Parliament will affect vaping policies and the industry, although it will certainly impact the undergoing revision process of the tobacco policy framework – defined by the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) and the Tobacco Advertisement Directive (TAD).

“The impact of the elections on the tobacco policy framework revision process will, of course, depend on the composition of the European Parliament, as well as on the new Commission that will be formed as a result,” Boboi said. “As vaping or tobacco policy is not a central point of the political campaigns of the European elections, it may be too early to predict the extent to which the new parliament may concretely affect the vaping industry.”

While e-cigarettes are currently not regulated by the TPD, which covers “products that can be consumed and consist, even partly, of tobacco”, and they don’t fall within the category of novel tobacco products, sources from the European Commission (EC) confirmed to ECigIntelligence at the end of last year that the revision of the EU tobacco policy framework will include vaping.


Restrictions could have ‘disastrous’ impact


“Restrictive regulation on e-cigarettes make harm-reduction alternatives to smoking less accessible to smokers trying to quit,” Boboi said.

While higher taxes on e-liquids would make them less accessible, he added, flavour bans and vaping prohibitions in some public spaces would make e-cigarettes less appealing to smokers who would otherwise transition to them.

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    “Introducing barriers to accessing vaping products will keep smoking rates high, with a disastrous impact on public health,” Boboi said, “while such measures would deal a serious blow to the vaping industry, mostly made of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and employing more than 100,000 people in the EU.”

    According to IEVA – which said it is “closely following” developments in the revision of the TPD and of the Tobacco Excise Directive (TED), whose evaluation is also being carried out by the EC – new restrictions on vaping may also negatively impact the targets set by the EU Beating Cancer Strategy (BECA).

    “Introducing additional restrictions to vaping, including restriction on flavours or a potential flavour ban or a high excise duties rate, would defeat the European Commission’s public health objective, laid out in the 2022 Beating Cancer Plan, to reduce the smoking prevalence in Europe to 5% by 2040,” Boboi said.

    “Of course, the results of the June 2024 European elections may influence the final proposals submitted by the Commission,” he added, pointing out that “the vaping sector remains vigilant on the upcoming developments on vaping policy”.

    IEVA was among the stakeholders who took part, last year, in the EC’s public consultation on the evaluation of the EU tobacco policy framework revision process – which was harshly criticised by some respondents, as questions allegedly reflected some biased positions.

    “IEVA and most of its members have participated in all EU public consultations on tobacco policy revisions,” Boboi said. “However, we regret that EU questionnaires made insufficient distinction between the tobacco industry and the vaping sector, as the questionnaires often conflated the two – despite their different activities and interests – which made answering them difficult.”

    Boboi said some of the questions were “confusing or loaded” and the EC failed to address their ambiguity.


    Ditching disposables


    For the time being, Boboi said, the EU vaping industry is preparing to cope with the outcome of restrictions coming from new regulation outside the tobacco policy framework, namely the new Batteries Regulation enforced in 2023, which will ban the sale of all electronic devices – including e-cigarettes  whose batteries are not removable and replaceable, starting from February 2027.

    “The vaping sector is aware of this regulation and has started adapting to it,” Boboi said, adding that the new rules on batteries will establish a de-facto EU ban on disposable vapes, making it unnecessary for governments to introduce national ones, like Belgium and France recently did, and which Poland may soon try to achieve.

    Further bans on disposables hold no real added value, and national public health policies’ focus should not be directed towards them,” Boboi said.

    When it comes to environmental concerns, IEVA said it shares those “stemming from the use of disposables, notably the issue of plastic pollution and improper disposal of batteries”.

    At the same time, though, the organisation remains critical of disposable vape restrictions motivated by youth access.

    – Tiziana Cauli ECigIntelligence staff

    Tiziana Cauli

    Senior reporter/health & science editor
    Tiziana is an Italian journalist from Sardinia. She has worked for both international and local media in Italy, South Africa, France, Spain, the UK, Lebanon and Belgium. She also worked as a communications manager for several international NGOs in the humanitarian sector. Tiziana holds a degree in Political Science and a PhD in African Studies from the University of Cagliari and she’s a graduate of the Carlo De Martino school of journalism in Milan.

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