In an open letter to the EU’s health commissioner Tonio Borg, fifteen prominent scientists have criticised the interpretation of scientific research used by the European Union to potentially restrict electronic cigarette sales.
Image sent by author
Strict restrictions to the sale and regulation of electronic cigarettes have been drafted in the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive. The body has produced a draft proposal that would see e cigarettes regulated as medicinal products and restrict the strength of nicotine used in e-liquids.
However, the scientists have claimed that the scientific research used to justify these decisions has been misinterpreted to suit the arguments of the draftees and regulators. The respected scientists claim that restrictions could be seriously counter-productive for the industry and could potentially compromise the health of millions of European vapers.
The letter read: "If wisely regulated, e-cigarettes have the potential to make cigarettes obsolete and save millions of lives worldwide. Excessive regulation, on the contrary, will [perpetuate] the existing levels of smoking related disease, death and health care costs,"
The science used to influence the restrictions placed upon the strength of the nicotine content in e-liquids has been treated with a particularly harsh critique after the scientists revealed that the sources used were from a 1856 pharmacology textbook. The new restrictions would see a ban on all e-liquids that have a nicotine content greater than 20mg/ml removed from the marketplace.
The draft proposal justified this decision by stating ‘scientific’ evidence suggesting that 60 milligrams of nicotine can be lethal. One of the signatories, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos strongly refutes this claim: "This is not the case, and people have ingested doses 60 times higher, which only led to nausea and vomiting. Poisoning from tobacco, nicotine replacement medications or e-cigarette liquid is extremely rare, and there is no risk of overdosing through inhalation."
A spokesperson for the electronic cigarette brand Totally Wicked revealed that the company hopes that the scientists’ action has a positive effect upon the decision makers in Brussels: "Unfortunately, the public sees these misinterpreted findings, half-truths and fallacies presented as truth and their opinion of e cigs are instantly altered. This can be very damaging for us and for those who could benefit from using electronic cigarettes."
TECC echoed these sentiments: "Hopefully when the decision is reviewed, the truth will out and the EU will make a properly informed decision.
The letter will also be sent to members of the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of Ministers, who are all involved in deciding the fate of electronic cigarettes in Europe. The scientists and European vapers will all be hoping that the letter will be heeded before the Tobacco Products Directive is discussed at more length in March. If the draft proposal is passed, then the new restrictions could be brought into effect as early as April.