Lord Martin Callanan introduced an Early Day Motion to the House of Lords asking that the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which went into effect on May 20, be annulled on the grounds that the Royal College of Physicians had come out with a report in which it recommends the e cigarette as a useful means of tobacco harm reduction.
The vaping community understandably seized on this as a last beacon of hope, and a fervent social media campaign was launched with the hashtag #LordsVapeVote to bring awareness to the issue. 52,000 people signed a petition urging Prime Minister David Cameron to get an opt-out for Britain on Article 20 of the TPD, the Article which governs vaping and e-cigarettes.
On June 9, Lord Callanan announced that he would be dropping the motion, saying “despite the valiant efforts of many in the vaping community, there was no chance of Labour and/or the Lib Dems supporting my motion. I therefore consulted some of my parliamentary backers and they all agreed that there was no point in pursuing the debate next week when we were certain to lose, probably overwhelmingly.”
Response from Labour MP Shows Labour Misunderstood the Motion
In a detailed letter back to a prominent vaping blogger, GlosVaper, Labour MP Heidi Alexander stated that Labour would choose not to back the motion as it would mean overturning the TPD itself. However, as GlosVaper points out in his letter back to MP Alexander, posted here, this isn’t what it means it all - it means a renegotiation of Article 20 or a fine for noncompliance with the TPD vaping legislation.
British Vapers Feeling Defeated
The UK vaping community was well aware that the TPD had been negotiated, renegotiated and finalized. Nobody - especially Lord Callanan - thought that the entire Directive should be overturned. There are some very necessary restrictions in the TPD to limit the sales and advertising of “real” cigarettes. Since most vapers are ex-smokers, we can all get behind this rationale. The next glimmer of hope is in a Brexit vote, which would mean that Britain would not be governed under the TPD and would be free to make up its own regulations, but that’s a much larger fight that has been ongoing for years.
Lord Callanan Should be Commended
Lord Callanan’s Early Day Motion wasn’t motivated by politics. Rather, it was motivated by what he knew to be right, from experiences of his colleagues with smoking and from empirical data released by the Royal College of Physicians. For this, the vaping community owes him gratitude, even if he did eventually have to drop the motion.