Foe of light-touch regulation takes Europe’s top health role

crown - Jason Train 300x180The top health position in the European Commission has gone to a politician who strongly advocated that e-cigarettes be treated as medicines.

The appointment raises fears that e-cigs could be in for harsh regulatory attitudes as European countries begin to implement the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, who becomes Europe’s commissioner for health and food safety, supported pharmaceutical regulation for e-cigs during the preparation of the TPD, although the European Parliament disagreed and the eventual directive allowed for both consumer and medical regimes.

He also proposed bans on refillable devices and low nicotine limits for Europe, and while Lithuanian health minister he was instrumental in the prohibition of all vapour products in that country.

In his new role Andriukaitis will head the EU’s directorate-general for health and consumers, also known as SANCO, which will be responsible for much of the implementation detail of the TPD, including defining testing; reviewing the safety of refillables; interpreting market data; deciding whether to challenge member states which choose to regulate e-cigs as medicines only; and eventually reviewing the whole directive.

He is one of a set of new European commissioners announced this week.

What This Means: Andriukaitis may have clear anti-e-cig sentiments but he will not be a dictator – as in the case of the TPD, there will still be scope for more sympathetic politicians (and lobbyists) to influence policy. However, their arguments and their data will have to be good, and the importance of Europe’s industry associations may grow with a fearsome opponent to fight.

– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

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Photo: Jason Train

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