New EU regulation could lead to millions more premature deaths than necessary claims think tank the Adam Smith Institute.
Tomorrow the EU’s new Tobacco Products Directive will come into effect, bringing with it a swathe of new regulations including the banning of ten packs of cigarettes and restrictions on the size of rolling tobacco packets.
The regulation is aimed to encourage people to give up smoking, but despite being specifically set up to target Tobacco usage the directive’s regulation also covers the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes and vaping liquid which include 0% tobacco.
Millions of people have already given up smoking using e-cigarettes and the scientific community, including UK Department of Health sub-body Public Health England, have estimated that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
Regardless of this, as of Friday 20th May, cartridges and tanks of e-liquid will be limited to 2ml, a incredibly small amount, and refill containers to 10ml, completely preventing bulk-buying and outlawing the products users find most convenient. The maximum strength will be 20mg, ruling out high strength varieties that most closely approximate cigarettes.
These rules make e-cigarettes more difficult to use yet make little difference to safety, and arguably push people towards real cigarettes. When the United States banned e-cigarette sales to minors, they counteracted 70 percent of the previous downward trend in smoking among 12-17-year-olds. Abstract worries about re-normalisation work against concrete attempts to practically reduce harm. As long as real cigarettes are available as an alternative option to these arbitrary restrictions on e-cigs we are bound to see consumption shift from e-cigs to real cigs.
Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, said:
“Public health authorities should not lose sight of their real goal—or what should be their real goal—reducing harm to citizens while still allowing them freedom to make personal decisions, including those which involve tradeoffs between health and pleasure. The recent crackdown on e-cigs is not only a restriction on consumer and individual freedom, but will condemn thousands—who might have switched from smoking to vaping—to an early death.”
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The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.