This is something which has become probably the hottest topic of conversation among UK vapers over the past 12 months or so. I find myself talking about it almost daily these days, and I know a few people around the EU who are concerned too about the somewhat scary idea of our beloved e-cigarettes getting banned in the UK or worse, Europe, which would of course force the UK government to ban them since are beholden to the legislature of the EU more and more each year. I won’t get into the issue of whether we should be so inextricably linked to the EU policy-makers or not, we are and that is something none of us can do much about unfortunately.
Whilst there are no guarantees of anything in this world, I personally believe the chances of such a wide e-cig ban coming into force are practically zero. And no, this isn’t just blind optimism or wishful thinking on my part, far from it. I am on the contrary fairly negative in my expectations of our wonderful self-serving government and their ability to act with common sense above taxation priorities and their desire to all get re-elected every five years!
There are 3 distinct reasons why I feel quite sure we won’t be seeing a ban on electronic cigarettes:
- Pure logic is a fairly good place to start when deciding how likely a UK ban would be. Think about it, if I wanted to buy tobacco, I can do so in a billion or so shops all over the country. I can do so online even more easily. Yet tobacco is famed for being an allegedly proven killer. I say allegedly as I am one of the very few people who has actually read THE research studies which purport to prove the link between smoking and cancer and other serious illnesses. The evidence is nothing like as strong as they would have you believe either. But that aside, and regardless of my personal (and extremely rare) point of view on that subject, the general population and the government alike are convinced of the dangers of tobacco smoking. So logically speaking, I have always felt that so long as it remains the case that tobacco is widely and openly available to anyone over the age of 18, any more stringent controls on e-cigarettes would be wholly ridiculous and illogical. It simply wouldn’t stand up to public opinion, nor scientific opinion for that matter. So that’s point one, it just wouldn’t fly and it would be such a ridiculous imbalanced thing to do, government ministers would risk ridicule and more importantly, losing their seat in power, and that’s something they don’t do lightly! (Or at all for that matter!)
- In October 2013 MEPs (European Members of Parliament) made a sensible decision by voting against the principle of regulation of ecigs as “medical devices“. This was in spite of the wording of a new Tobacco Products Directive which firmly suggested they do exactly that, and force e-cigarettes to be classified as official medical devices. This would have had a huge impact on vapers and the general saleability of electronic cigarettes in the UK and EU alike. Thankfully they were having none of it, and they voted firmly against such an idea. Hooray! Common sense does exist after all!
- The final reason I believe we can feel safe about our vaping activities for many years to come, is the recent moves by “Big Tobacco” to get into the e-cigarette industry. I have been saying for years that it was only a matter of time before this happened. They have to “hedge” their bets and the most sensible way to do is to have a serious investment in e-cigs. That way, as people shift from one source of nicotine to another, they can prevent a lot of total loss of revenue. It was logical, and it’s happening. Altria for example, a subsidiary of Philip Morris Tobacco (which makes up 49% of the global consumption of cigarettes), bought out GreenSmoke (and in my view they are welcome to GS, the most disgracefully dishonest company in the industry in my experience). So why does this affect the likelihood of e-cigarettes avoiding a ban? Well, if you need to ask that, you haven’t been awake for the past 60 or so years! Take one look into the power of big tobacco, the influence it has in governments all over the world, the fact that this company has sued various governments (yes a company suing a government!) from Namibia to Australia! They have a LOT of money, and where this is a lot of money there is a LOT of power and influence. So, if big tobacco is getting in, I feel pretty damn safe about the future prospects of the e-cig business and their ability to remain freely available to those who want to buy them and use them.
As already said, nothing is guaranteed, but as far as I am concerned, if e-cigarettes got banned in Britain, I would eat my hat, then a pack of 20 smokes, then another hat. 😀
It just isn’t gonna happen.