Friday 30 December 2011

It Was All Going So Well In Holland, Too

The latest attack on e-cigs has come from just about the last place on Earth one would expect!

After reading this article earlier this month, I tweeted in support of Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers, for her liberal approach to nicotine delivery. To boil it down, it appeared that she recognised the fact that it is a personal decision to quit smoking; that it can only be achieved if an individual wants to do so; that government shouldn't be spending precious funds on bullying people; and that the pharma industry is quite capable of weaning smokers away from cigarettes with their own cash if they want to reap the profits.

Sadly, it seems she may have given with one hand, while offering a sop to disgruntled pharma companies with the other. This document, when translated, reveals that the Dutch government have just all but prohibited e-cigs.

According to my Dutch-speaking friend, this means:

What they actually say is that the e-cig will be considered as a drug (compared with patches and gum). This will mean that it needs a license from the Dutch FDA and trade over internet or ads are not allowed until the license is given.

Until now, it was temporarily assigned the drug status without being enforced. So it'll not be banned but will have the same status as nicotine patches and gum.
Now, the e-cig industry - although growing at a crackling rate - is still in its infancy, so licensing is a massive hurdle to overcome for the relatively small companies who are marketing the devices.

It has been estimated that to comply with the regulations and allow just one line to be approved under drug licensing requirements would cost over a quarter of a million quid. If any alterations are made, or a new design introduced, the process (and compliance costs) all starts again.

The alternative would be - as other jurisdictions have done - to class e-cigs as a recreational (tobacco) product, with lighter regulation. The upshot being that those who find quitting easy with an e-cig are able to do so with enjoyment of nicotine being a feature, not a bug.

Of course, that doesn't sit well with manufacturers of patches and gum, just as they thought they were cornering the market after decades of lobbying governments and banning stuff investment.

The Dutch Health Department's action has the potential for killing the Dutch e-cig industry overnight and leaving 'vapers' with the option of resorting to pharma products, or going back to tobacco.

Why does this not reek of tobacco company involvement, I hear you ask? Well, because it's not been the tobacco industry making shrill noises all over the world to have e-cigs banned. In fact, quite the opposite.

Philip Morris have purchased patents for similar delivery systems, while British American Tobacco have done the same over here. The latter crucially relies on such technology being deemed as a tobacco product, and not a pharmaceutical one, which is why it was Martin Dockrell of ASH spitting feathers about the idea.

The fact that ‘Big Tobacco’ is launching a ‘healthy’ cigarette (and has caught the attention of Tesco’s highly successful former chief executive Terry Leahy, who is investing in the venture) will dismay many people in the health lobby.

‘This is a cynical move to design a product to keep you smoking,’ is the view taken by Martin Dockrell, director of research and policy at Action On Smoking And Health (ASH)
Gotta keep the sponsors happy, haven't you, Martin?

Dutch smokers who are suspicious of e-cigs (I presume there will be some with that view just as there are over here) would seem to benefit from this policy. They get some relief from the incessant lecturing, while pharma gets a consolation prize of new business from vapers who are keen not to go back to smoking 'analogues'. However, it's an empty victory if others have to suffer as a result, especially since the justification for the ban is still one of a difference between nicotine for fun, and nicotine as a purely functional - and short term - route to government-approved purity.

In other words, it's only a reprieve. It won't stop the drive for sole use of pharmaceutical nicotine, and anyone who thinks 'sod vapers, what do I care?' has very quickly forgotten their own predicament after being abandoned by users of other frowned-upon products.

We thought Holland had shed the shackles of pharma lobbying and intimidation - for the arguable good of their countrymen - but this latest development shows that there's still quite a bit of weak-willed apprehension at play.

Come on, Edith, you can do better than this.

H/T Steve K


Woodsy42 said...

Can't an e-cig be sold in a kit with nicotine free flavourings in the capsules?
In that case it can't be covered and any laws would apply only to nicotine containing capsules which might accidently fit the neutral e-cig.

Dick Puddlecote said...

The capsules are being banned for sale too as I understand it, Woodsey. Only nicotine free ones will be allowed for people who already own an e-cig. The big killer is that online sales are banned too, so imports won't be tolerated - it's a right kick in the teeth for vapers.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ah well. It's a bizarre world with this drug licensing. To cut a long story, you could finish off your competitors at a stroke by persuading the powers that be to classify your competitor's product as a drug.

Steve K said...

Thanks for explaining this one better than I could :) I am severely lacking in the Dutch friend department so I couldn't translate the original.


Dick Puddlecote said...

MW: Indeed, the very essence of corporatism and yet another way government wrecks things.

Steve K: Ta for the compliment. I've plenty of Dutch friends from a previous 'life', fortunately. :)

Anonymous said...

This coming New Year will see an
awakening of those seeking any kind
of freedom.The sad truth is the many facets of liberty can not be achieved by the failed notions of pacified reason or sensible appeal.
Appeasement is not an option,
petitions are not heeded,letters not read nor words listened to,
even the Web shrieks unheard.

History has shown us how to deal
with despots ,it is just a matter
time before sufficient numbers are
found who are willing to resort to
the remedy,however unpalatable.
Without action the State will
tighten the existing chains and
their twisted servants will forge new ones.Future generatios will ask
of us.........WHY

In the shadow
of the Satanic Mills

Kris said...

This is really weird.
None of the Dutch newspapers appear to have picked up this story.
I will visit a tobacco shop tomorrow to see for myself if they no longer are available.

Anonymous said...

I’ve long wondered why the big tobacco companies didn’t get in on the e-cigarette market much quicker than this, to be honest. Licensing is a crashing blow to the small e-cig companies, of course, which is desperately sad for them, but at least if the big tobacco companies are getting in on the act there’s a chance that e-cigs will continue to be as available for customers as they are now – if not more so. And, of course, anything which puts the likes of ASH in a difficult corner whereby they start to publicly look like the bad guys (which, of course, everyone on here already knows they are), has got to be a good thing. No wonder they’re furious!

Anonymous said...

Remember a long, long time ago, when the anti-tobacco hatred industry was just getting its lies up and running before conquering the world and corrupting everything it got its fingers on - they said back then, early on, that if only they had the kind of strict testing requirements then as they do now, that cigarettes would never have made it to the marketplace.

And so now, they have to prove themselves right and display to the believing masses that they are hard at work to make that dream of theirs come true, only this time picking on vaporized soybean juice as their target. They will effectively make e-cigs out as 1000x more deadly than tobacco - and so e-cigs will go the way of the dinosaur, thanks to government bans and eradication, including sending in the troops to bust it up, the same way they sent in armed FBI to bust up stills in the days of whisky prohibition in the US.

E-cigs would have done better to not have played into the anti-smoking industry's hands by verifying that second-hand-smoke was so harmful, which having now done anti-smoking's bidding, they will probably be easily destroyed by tobacco and the anti-smoking hate industries, both.

Tucker had a car but it was driven out of market for being too innovative by the automobile companies. E-cigs, I would expect similar treatment.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the whole story is a fabrication, or a typical Tobacco Control exaggeration.

Let us see what the next few days bring.

Damn it! Given an amount of tobacco, it must surely be easy to extract the nicotine content from it? It is just a matter of methodology.

""Put tobacco into a pan. Cover with water. Simmer gently until water evaporates. Add to residue xxx. Cover with water and simmer again. Drain liquid and
discard solid residue. The liquid is nicotine plus xxx.""

I GUARANTEE that such instructions will appear on the internet. Easy-peasy.

Tobacco Control has opened up a huge can of worms. People are growing their own and scattering tobacco seeds here and there. Expect 'ecig outreach officers' to appear soon. All at the expense of non-smokers, of course. (Not at the expense of anti-smokers - too few of them)

Anonymous said...

"it must surely be easy to extract the nicotine content from it? It is just a matter of methodology."

If you're a chemist;- maybe:

Other answers (and warnings!) can be seen from a search on nicotine extraction - as you'd expect!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, anon.

But we must remember that the researchers were attempting to keep the tobacco intact!

I haven't read it carefully at this moment, but the document mentions 'pyrolasis'. As I understand it, that means 'burning'. I would not say that burning tobacco (in effect, the same thing as smoking a fag)is dangerous.I would not say that doing so in a controlled way so that the 'smoke' condenses is dangerous at all, in itself - not like making vodka with all the combustible fumes.

But I honestly do not know. That is why I said that instructions could probably be found on the internet!

My point is that making your own e-liquid ought not to be that difficult.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I am Dutch and a Vapor aswell,
You know what the funny part of this all is...

You can still buy Drugs in special Cafe's and make use of it,
But being a Vapor, we are sentenced of being the criminals.

They made 1 big mistake...
we are fighters and we have rights.

The words that Edith Schippers pronnounced as she lifted the Anti-Smoke law, for the small Horeca
(catering, bars, etc.) are:

Freedom of choice, also applies to the lifestyle of people, self-determination is an
important right, also with regard to lifestyle. Freedom and Responsibility is not for nothing
the motto of this government,
the state is not a nanny.

This statement accounts to us Vapors or e-smokers aswell in my humble opinion.

But the state just BECAME That NANNY - only for us Vapors and not for the Tobacco Users, they have those rights, she stated.

Best Regards,

DutchVaper said...

It was a sad day on the 23rd of December here in Holland.

Dutch vapers got an early christmas present we didn't want and certainly didn't expect looking at past actions of this minister.

At the moment efforts are underway to start a dialogue with this minister, we will have to wait and see how that will pan out.

One thing is for sure we will need all the help we can get from across the globe, because I fear once the Netherlands falls, the rest of Europe may wel follow real soon.

Kind regards

Anonymous said...

Hello, I too am Dutch.
It's only today I found out about the new regulation. I'm not surprised at all. The government is not that much interested in the health of it's subjects, it's interested in their money. Lack of taxing possibillities is the real issue here. In the past we had a minister of Public Health who proposed draconic measures to push back smoking, on which the minister of finance (G. Zalm) replied : "I do not care what you do, as long as the last cigarette will provide me with 2 billion of euro's". End of story.
As politics are the higher art of deception, I see no way reasonable arguments will change anything for the better.
The real problem is not health but finance. This can't be won by arguments.
Governments all over the world are putting restrictions on e-smoking, every argument they can think of will gladly be adopted by their Partners in Cr.. ehh.. fellow lawmakers.