UK Government and electronic cigarettes
Only a few days ago it was revealed that UK electronic cigarette company Totally Wicked has launched a legal challenge to the European Union Tobacco Products Directive. The basis of the challenge has been widely publicised although there is a very interesting undercurrent to this particular development. Under EU regulations the company would first have needed to issue a challenge to its local government, i.e. the UK government, so what did the UK government say when this legal action was delivered?
Before we look at the UK government’s response to the legal action by Totally Wicked we need to appreciate that the authorities across the UK, and indeed across Europe, have been fairly dismissive of electronic cigarettes. Indeed politician after politician have lined up to issue an array of accusations, rumours and in some cases untruths about the industry as a means of reducing its ever-growing popularity. So, when the UK government had the chance to challenge the legal action by the industry what did Jeremy Hunt, the UK Secretary of State for Health, decide to do?
UK government waives through legal challenge
Rather than challenge the legal action in the UK it has been revealed that Jeremy Hunt simply decided to waive the action through with the next step being the European Union Court of Justice. Quite why the UK government decided not to wrap this action up in red tape and delay it for many years to come is unclear but many experts believe the authorities have perhaps changed their strategy on the industry and are now turning more positive?
If the UK authorities had thought for one second that the legal action by Totally Wicked had no basis and no chance of victory then it could have been defeated in the UK courts. Indeed, many believe that the UK government is secretly turning in favour of electronic cigarettes as a means of reducing dependence upon tobacco cigarettes and the well-documented associated health issues. Whether the UK government will ever come out and confirm the situation remains to be seen but this wall of silence is certainly giving the rumour mill significant room for manoeuvre.
Mark 6 October 2014 in your diary
An initial court hearing on 6 October 2014 will mark the first step in the legal action by Totally Wicked and we should see a ruling as to whether the action has any basis and where we go from here. Even if the action is refused by the European Union Court of Justice this will not be the end of the legal redress available to the industry and experts believe this will drag on for many years to come.
The reality is that electronic cigarette manufacturers and retailers across the European Union, and indeed across the world, have been calling for a more transparent regulatory environment for some time now. Amid accusations that the European Union acted on flawed data when putting together a proposed regulatory framework for the European market will hopefully see an array of secretive communications and research released into the public domain. There is every chance that some of this correspondence could be embarrassing for the European Union which many believe is inadvertently showing a preference to the tobacco cigarette industry.
Whether or not the UK government believes that Totally Wicked has a strong case or indeed the UK government is turning more in favour of electronic cigarettes remains to be seen. The fact that the UK authorities decided not to challenge the legal action before passing it on to the European Union may seem like a relatively small point but it could mark a major shift in future policy. Time will tell!
Mark Benson is a contributing author for Spinfuel eMagazine. His continuing columns will bring a levelheaded approach to the dynamics involved in realizing a positive future for the e-cigarette industry. For more information on OK Eliquids and other products available please visit the OKCigs website.