A new and welcome phenomenon of the last couple of years has been the shift that many smokers have made from cigarettes to E-Cigarettes, a cleaner and healthier alternative. Literally thousands of Manchester residents have taken to this healthier and cheaper option, which will in time save lives.
That is why it came as a massive shock when the Labour Party in the European Parliament proposed that E-Cigarettes should be declared to be a medicine, which means they would have to be tested and regulated, pushing the cost of production through the roof.
North West Liberal Democrat MP, Chris Davies, has been leading the assault on Labour’s policy, and he recently told me that when he was out canvassing in Manchester one Saturday a local GP told him that “I recommend e-cigs to my patients when they come to me about smoking problems.” he went on to tell Chris that “Cigarettes are full of nasty things but nicotine is the least of them.”
Chris briefed me about his battle in the Environment & Public Health Committee of the European Parliament before the summer recess where he lost a vote to try and prevent Labour classifying and restricting them as medicinal products by 2-1. Fortunately Chris’s campaign is gaining ground as more and more MEPs seem to be coming to the view that they could really help smokers switch to something less harmful.
Together with one of our Belgian Liberal colleagues Chris has been working to fashion an amendment that can address concerns (product safety, advertising to under 18s, etc) and secure cross-party support when the Committee vote in plenary on 8 October.
Chris has now had an email from the leader of the largest delegation of MEPs, the German CDU/CSU (Angela Merkel’s people) saying that they will be backing the Liberal Democrat amendment. The ground is moving in the European Parliament in favour of the stand that Chris is taking, and E-Cigarette users in the North West can be thankful that they have one of the most experienced EU Legislators, Chris Davies MEP, on their side.