New rules call for the advertising of electronic cigarettes to be
banned by mid-2016 and mandates health warnings and childproof
The European Parliament has approved rules for the region's fast-
growing market for electronic cigarettes, regulations that could
help set a benchmark for standards around the world.
Beginning in mid-2016, advertising for e-cigarettes would be
banned in the 28 nations of the European Union, as it already is for
ordinary tobacco products. E-cigarettes would also be required to
carry graphic health warnings and must be childproof. The amount of
nicotine would be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, similar
to the limit for ordinary cigarettes.
Governments across the globe are grappling with how to regulate e-
cigarettes, which turn nicotine-infused propylene glycol into an
inhalable vapor. As sales of e-cigarettes have ballooned, the debate
over the public health implications has intensified. The Food and
Drug Administration in the United States is expected to issue
regulations for the devices soon; some American cities have already
acted independently to ban e-cigarettes in public places.
In Europe, the tobacco legislation just needs the final approval
of member states, something that appears all but certain. It is
expected by April.
The regulation of e-cigarettes in Europe is part of a broader
overhaul of the region's tobacco rules, which have been in place
The rules adopted on Wednesday go further than United States
laws. Along with the e-cigarette changes, they will require that the
top 65 percent of all cigarette packs be covered with health
warnings and pictures of things like diseased lungs. They would ban
all tobacco products specifically aimed at children, like chocolate
cigarettes, as well as cigarettes that come in packages designed to
look like lipstick or perfume containers. Menthol cigarettes would
also be prohibited, after a four-year delay.
But the new rules stop short of an earlier proposal to regulate e-
cigarettes as medicines. Such oversight would have moved them out of
the specialty shops that have sprouted across Europe and into
drugstores, where they would have been subject to the same
regulatory regime as pharmaceuticals.
"This is a victory," said Linda McAvan, the British Labour Party
member of the European Parliament who guided the legislation through
the chamber in the face of determined opposition from the tobacco
"The original proposal was stricter, and I would have voted for
that, but the new law is anyway a huge step forward in tobacco
control," she added.
The fight will probably continue, as Big Tobacco and e-cigarette
start-ups look to protect their business. For example, the tobacco
companies' case has previously been taken up by countries like
Ukraine, Cuba and Indonesia in a challenge to Australia's rules at
the World Trade Organization, arguing that the regulations
constitute "technical barriers" to trade and violate the companies'
intellectual property rights. …