Put that ruddy light out!

The European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health & Food Safety committee sensationally reclassified e-cigarettes as medicinal products this month.

The e-cigarette has been instrumental in recent years in aiding thousands of smokers to quit. For those who are unfamiliar with the e-cigarette, it allows the consumer to get their nicotine fix without all the harmful carcinogenic substances found in normal cigarettes.

Now, by making them harder to obtain, the EU risks pushing quitters back onto smoke – neutralising any attempts to get Europe’s smokers on the original nanny state path to quit. The reclassification of e-cigarettes was all part of a grand effort to ensure smoking doesn’t appear glamorous to young people.

With 94% of Europe’s smokers starting before they are 25 years old and with 32% of the European population inclined to light up from time to time, the EU felt it was necessary to shoot itself in the foot and restrict the very products that help smokers quit.

E-cigarettes are just like the caffeine in coffee – no harm is done to your body. In addition to this colossal cock-up, slim cigarettes and flavoured cigarettes were also banned. This means the much-loved menthol cigarette is on the way out because its salivating flavours encourage young people to take up smoking. One can’t help but feel that EU legislators are being short-sighted…as per usual.

The report containing the proposals was steered through the parliament by Linda McAvan MEP, a UK Labour MEP. So whilst the Labour party continues to flounder at home, it is causing its usual damage out here in Brussels. The European Conservatives & Reformists (ECR) Group put up a valiant fight to inject some common sense into the proposals, but they couldn’t outvote the left-wingers.

You can’t blame politicians for being expedient though… or can you? It’s much easier to ban cigarettes than to ever attempt to radically overhaul healthcare systems so that they may become sustainable and cost-effective.

European legislators are in denial if they honestly think the problem will go away if they ignore it. If Europe is serious about pursuing growth and prosperity, it needs to tackle the difficult issues. With ageing populations, healthcare systems will continue to feel the pressure.

But, hey, with these tobacco proposals it now looks like Europe was never serious about cutting its health bill anyway…it just wanted to tell people what to do.