Sweden's National Drug Agency got ahead of themselves by placing a ban on e-cigarettes as medical products, something the Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm didn't agree with. The court has nowreversed the preemptive decision, stating in their ruling: “To be a medical product, it must have the ability to prevent or treat a disease and, therefore, provide a beneficial effect on human health”. Governments should expect this decision to be cited in courts to challenge regulation in other parts of the world.

Government regulations elsewhere

Quebec, Canada recently passed bill 44. Regulation in place now makes vapor products tobacco.

It bans stores from advertising or giving beneficial information to customers in any form. In England, the Leicester Stop Smoking Services can offer vaping products as part of their arsenal to help smokers quit. Public Health England found they are at least 95% safer than cigarettes and help smokers stop smoking. This takes tobacco harm reduction to a new level in the UK; however, EU regulations affecting the types of equipment allowed, and stringent limits on nicotine strength, will be in place later this year.

In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has "deeming" legislation which may classify e-cigarettes as tobacco at the federal level. Cities and states are scrambling with preemptive measures to tax them like tobacco.

Chicago has imposed a "separate" tax on both liquid and equipment. Local and state level governments trying to pass regulations are also being fiercely opposed. Opposition in the U.S. is gaining momentum, with trade organizations and consumer groups lining up alongside politicians to challenge and amend existing regulations.

Reasons for regulation are weak

Governments are ignoring evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit. The drastic drop in sales of cigarettes also shows thatthey work -and are impacting cigarette tax revenue. Most officials want that lost revenue replaced. The reasons given to regulate e-cigarettes are poor, and vary depending on who's making the claim.

One excuse is that vaping products are equal to tobacco products. That message implies to smokers that they are the same. There is no tobacco or combustion though, only nicotine. Another preposterous claim: they "don't know enough". If they're in charge of it, they should know everything about it. They're running out of excuses, but variations of "access to children" are popular because it invokes public emotion. Other claims hinge on something that there is no conclusive evidence of: nicotine addiction.

Why regulation is wrong

Keeping governmental eyes on the prize doesn't seem difficult. To pretend they want smokers to stop smoking, governments, politicians and health professionals now must choose what is more important.

They could:

  • continue to reach into the pockets of both smokers and e-cigarette users in the form of taxes, a deceitful way towards their own prize, or
  • support e-cigarettes as a tool to help people deciding to quit smoking as a consumer product without burdensome taxes and regulation.

All legislation needs to be challenged. Governments, politicians and "public health" need stop wasting valuable time. E-cigarettes are not a medical device, and they are not a tobacco product. They are a tool to stop smoking. Placing tax revenue above public health puts lives of smokers at stake. They need to compare how important regulations are against the health of those wanting to stop smoking, something that's already working for millions.

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