As currently evidence on the health impacts of NCPs -such as e-cigarettes- is lacking, we urge the Trialogue to adopt the precautionary principle to shape regulation of NCPs. “Without a robust regulatory framework in place in the EU, e-cigarettes are now hanging in a legal limbo. It is essential that this emerging range of products is urgently regulated to safeguard people’s health”, said Monika Kosińska, Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) “To achieve this, Brussels has to make sure that strict rules on advertising and sponsorship as well as market surveillance and monitoring are the corner stones of new legislation, whilst ensuring that the products are accessible to existing smokers”.

As the EPHA briefing states, lack of strict regulation of NCPs, or maintaining long transitional periods which is equivalent to maintaining the status quo, has the potential danger to drive market developments that are detrimental to public health.

Although high quality NCPs have the potential to help smokers who are not otherwise ready or able to quit smoking, NCPs must not become a gateway to cigarettes, especially for young people, and must not re-normalise smoking. The future legal framework must ensure that accessibility to NCPs for existing smokers (4) is not hindered while ensuring that they are unappealing and inaccessible to minors.

Strict marketing limits - similar to tobacco and medicine marketing rules - are essential so that NCPs do not promote smoking behaviour either in a direct or indirect way, and appropriate measures put in place to allow a regulatory response to the future and fast development of this market ”, said Cornel Radu-Loghin of the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP).

"We have long argued for harm reduction in tobacco policy and for radical reform of nicotine regulation to enable effective alternative nicotine products to replace smoking. Regulation is needed to ensure appropriate standards of quality and safety, and to protect against market abuse arising from unscrupulous commercial interests. We therefore support proportionate regulation that enables smokers to access affordable nicotine replacement products as easily as possible while ensuring purity, safety and responsible marketing," stressed Professor John Britton CBE, Royal College of Physicans (RCP).

Given the relative short market presence of some NCPs, in particular e-cigarettes, regulation on NCPs will be based on incomplete evidence on the long-term health consequences of their use. “Appropriate monitoring and impact assessment mechanisms, including surveys and data on the health risks, benefits and unintended consequences of the use of NCPs, should be an essential part of the EU regulation on these products,” stressed Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). “The Commission must be empowered to adopt new legislation in order to maintain a high level of human health protection in this fast changing field” concluded Luk Joossens of the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL).

- Notes to editors

(1) The future legislation of nicotine containing products (NCPs), including e-cigarettes, is part of the ongoing discussion on the revision of Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

(2) EPHA Briefing Regulation of Nicotine Containing Products (NCPs) including electronic cigarettes

(3) A briefing from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) on electronic cigarettes is available here. Further information on the use electronic cigarettes in the UK is available here

(4) The provision of information in including tobacco cessation services (quit lines) are crucial to sustained and successful efforts to quit smoking

- Contact information

Javier Delgado Rivera, EPHA Communications Coordinator at javier@epha.org or +32(0) 2 233 3876 (mobile +32(0) 484 919 156)

Last modified on December 6 2013.