Lift EU regulations to let vaping flourish after Brexit
- The UK and Sweden have the lowest smoking rates in the European Union as a result of consumers switching from cigarettes to low risk nicotine products: specifically, e-cigarettes and snus, respectively.
- Public Health England and other health organisations have concluded that the health risks of vaping are unlikely to exceed five per cent of the risks of smoking. Early fears about e-cigarettes acting as a ‘gateway’ to smoking appear to be unfounded.
- The British experience with e-cigarettes is an example of the free market finding solutions to health risks. Vaping products have reduced the costs associated with nicotine use (i.e. health risks) while maintaining most or all of the benefits (i.e. pleasure). They emerged spontaneously without the initial support of governments and ‘public health’ campaigners.
- Recent EU regulation of vaping has led to higher prices, more waste, smaller narrower product ranges, less innovation and heavy restrictions on how they can be promoted, even by government agencies. There is no evidence that these regulations have led to any positive outcomes. On the contrary, they have reduced the appeal of e-cigarettes to existing smokers and raised the costs for existing vapers.
- Snus, meanwhile, is banned by the EU in every member state except Sweden despite its well documented role in reducing smoking prevalence in Scandinavia.
- A third of smokers in the UK have still not tried vaping and many of those who have tried it continue to smoke. Further innovation in the industry could encourage more smokers to switch, but progress is hampered by EU regulation.
- Brexit offers an opportunity to return to a more liberal regulatory regime to the benefit of consumers and British businesses. Repealing the regulations that have been stipulated by EU’s Tobacco Products Directives (TPD) is a relatively simple process and would not require primary legislation.
- After Brexit, the UK should regulate e-cigarettes, snus and other reduced-risk nicotine products in a way that does nothing to discourage smokers from switching to them.