Speaking from Brussels last night, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson welcomed as progress the agreement reached between the European Parliament and Council on some of the key issues in the Tobacco Products Directive. However she expressed disappointment at the lack of agreement on the issue of e-cigarettes which is ultimately holding up the rest of the package.

Ms Anderson, who is the shadow negotiator for the GUE-NGL political group in the EU Parliament said:

“I welcome progress made on issues including 65% of packaging being covered by picture and text health warnings, a flavourings ban and an increased reporting obligation for the tobacco companies on additives.

“However I am disappointed at the lack of agreement on the issue of e-cigarettes which is ultimately holding up the rest of the package.

“The Council, which was originally unanimous in wanting to pursue a medically informed option have retreated some distance from this position in compromising with the Parliament who voted for e-cigarettes to be authorised as consumer products not requiring medical clearance. The Council wanted e-cigarettes included in the directive so that refillable cartridges which can be easily opened and home-blended by consumers could be banned. It is incomprehensible that some MEP’s cannot recognise the danger inherent in excluding e-cigarettes from the directive.

‘Those who are adopting this position should contemplate the ramifications of their obstruction if the issue of ‘refillable cartridges’ are not addressed. E-cigarettes could be taken out of the directive, leaving it up to the Member States to regulate as they see fit, resulting in diverse regulation in different countries. Considering over half of Member States are already using or are planning a pharma option only – I would urge colleagues to think carefully about what they really want to get out of this Article.

‘This directive has become overshadowed by the wrangling over e-cigarettes. It is important that we remember what the objective of the directive is – to introduce a range of measures which will tackle the real culprit resulting in over 700,000 deaths every year in Europe – tobacco products! Excluding e-cigarettes from the directive ignores this objective and could weaken the impact on protection of public health.

“I hope that in the coming days we will be able to agree on a comprehensive package to ensure that the health of our children and young people is prioritised over the interests and profits of the tobacco industry.”