Leading Academics Call Out UK Tobacco Products Directive

Klaus Kneale
by Klaus Kneale
February 2, 2014

P022455001002-147426The United Kingdom recently announced a tobacco products directive that would place harsh restrictions on electronic cigarettes.  A group of 15 leading academics sent a letter to Health Commissioner Tony Borg arguing that the directive overstates the health risks of nicotine and lacks evidence that harsh e-cig restrictions are actually necessary.

The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) suggests a limit of 20 milligrams of nicotine in electronic cigarettes.  This limit is based on belief that 60 milligrams of nicotine can be lethal.  As well, the TPD proposed restrictions on sale locations and advertising to prevent a gateway effect from leading non-smokers (particularly those of a young age) to becoming smokers.

The letter argues against both these points.  First, the believed lethality of 60 milligrams of nicotine is based on outdated information — presumably coming from a flawed study dating back to 1856 (that’s 158 years ago).  Most modern cigarettes contain roughly 50 milligrams of nicotine and actual toxicity of nicotine is far lower than most studies would suggest.

Concerning the presumed gateway effect, most experts now argue that the kind of gateway effect people often warn against rarely exists.  Evidence actually support the belief that electronic cigarettes provide a gateway away from smoking rather than to it.  Some researchers even believe that electronic cigarettes existing on the market prevent people from smoking by offering a safer and cheaper alternative.

You can read a little more about the letter right here.

Letters and public statements like these are becoming far more common.  More and more experts and politicians are appearing that support the open availability of electronic cigarettes rather than opposing it.  Market research shows that the majority of the public believes electronic cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking and a successful cessation option for many smokers.

The Tobacco Products Directive is a landmark political battle.  It will represent one of the first significant national-level electronic cigarette regulatory motions.  Some countries have already made national-level decisions about e-cigs, but this would be the first non-knee jerk reaction national legislations against electronic cigarettes.  This could be the first national-level e-cig debates in the world to get due discussion and consideration.

As such, it is clear that the academic community is not sitting idly by and letting regulators push through whatever they think feels right.

Resistance is not futile.


2 Responses to “Leading Academics Call Out UK Tobacco Products Directive”

      Jacques Le Houezec on February 2nd, 2014 7:51 am

      50 mg in a cigarette is also a misreading of our argument. A cigarette contains about 12-14 mg of nicotine. The letter specify that in order for a smoker to get as much nicotine from an e-cig compared to a tobacco cigarette, the e-liquid must contain 50 mg/ml of nicotine.
      Please pay attention to what you write. Thanks.
      Jacques Le Houezec, PhD

        Iain Quinn on February 4th, 2014 3:52 pm

        I was going to point the error out as well. I hope the legislation is a light touch and not a strangulation. Lets face it analogue cigarettes are proven to be very bad, the explosion of the electronic cig is a good thing. I personally stopped dead from 30 a day smoker because of these advanced devices and particularly the e liquid which was at the time 24ml, I now tape 12ml or 0ml nic. I was so astounded by the effect it had I researched and began my own brand so that I could help others make the switch. I am not a academic but I am very pleased that there are academics out there that are putting a concise argument up.

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