The 10th of May saw a possibly historic debate take place in the House of Lords. The debate was led by Viscount Ridley (who has been a staunch supporter of ecigs since the beginning), and it focused on the implementation of the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) which was officially introduced on the 20th of May.
The Lords are not fans of the inclusion of ecigs into the TPD, and the debate saw many of the Lords speaking up positively for ecigs, with a couple of them admitting they actually used ecigs themselves. The entire debate is available on YouTube; it’s 1 hour 13 mins long, but well worth the watch- but if that’s not an option, the transcript is available too.
Since the debate, Lord Callanan has tabled a fatal motion, known as a Prayer Motion. A little background on Lord Callanan first though; he was an MEP when the TPD was going through the EU Parliament and fought incredibly hard to get the best deal for ecigs. Along with vapers, he helped to convert many of the other MEP’s to the benefits of ecigs, which resulted in the vote that all ecigs should be medical devices being beaten. He also chaired the meeting between the MEP’s and the Council of EU Ministers and fought for ecigs again- this time not quite as successfully, and we ended up with the TPD as it is today. Ever since then he feels that he has let us and ecigs down. That’s one of the reasons behind his fatal motion.
You may have heard of a fatal motion or Prayer before. The Lords, if they so wish, can hold a debate and vote on any legislation the government wants or has already introduced (within 40 days of introduction). The most recent time this was used was the tax credits debate just a few months ago. So even though the TPD is already law, the Lords still have a chance to remove vaping and ecigs from the legislation. The motion Lord Callanan has introduced is this:
“†Lord Callanan to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, laid before the House on 22 April, be annulled on the grounds that its restrictions on product choice and advertising of vaping devices were devised before evidence had accumulated that vaping was enabling many people to quit smoking, run counter to advice from the Royal College of Physicians to promote vaping and are so severe that they could force vapers back to smoking and create a black market with harmful products (SI 2015/507).”
This now starts the process of another debate in the House of Lords and then they vote straight afterwards. They have until the 10th of June to complete this process (that will mark the 40th day of the “praying” time). They can vote to remove all of the TPD until it’s re-written or just the section about ecigs or to leave it as it is. The only thing that can stop this motion going ahead is if Lord Callanan bows to pressure from Downing Street and removes the motion himself. Since he has supported ecigs so valiantly since the beginning, this would be an extremely unexpected turn around.
With nearly 3 million vapers in the UK now, legislators do not want this piece of EU law being used as a debate subject just before the EU referendum, which it is starting to become; the leave.eu site has a whole page about it already. The mood in Britain is that ecigs are a good thing for smokers and the EU opinion seems to be not quite as keen. Having such a passionate, powerful subject up for debate right now could raise some interesting arguments towards the whole “in or out” debate so everyone is expecting this to be taken very seriously indeed.
The history of ecigs is not written just yet. Whatever your thoughts on the EU referendum, this is about ecigs and we have a chance to exploit the political consciousness surrounding the EU to our benefit. If you want to have your say on it you can use the write to them website and send a note to your local representative and you can write to any of the Lords using the site they work for you. There is also a petition you can sign on the Change.org site which will be delivered to David Cameron MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP, over 37 thousand vapers have already signed and it’s only been up a few days. Time on this one is short. Using vaper power we achieved a lot the last time we tried, it’s time to try again!