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Tories and UKIP play into hands of big tobacco on EU cigarette rules

February 26, 2014 5:44 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

MEPs today voted on new rules to reduce the uptake of smoking amongst young people, including larger health warnings on cigarette packets, restrictions on "lipstick-style" packaging and a ban on flavourings including menthols.

Bill Newton Dunn in EU ParliamentFollowing a strong campaign by Liberal Democrat MEP's, the new EU rules ensure that electronic cigarettes can be sold as freely as their tobacco alternatives, not under pharmaceutical regulations as pushed for by Labour

Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin refused to back the new rules but UKIP MEP Roger Helmer went so far as to vote against. UKIP leader Nigel Farage failed to turn up to vote despite his party receiving a £25k donation from an e-cigarette company.

Bill Newton Dunn Liberal Democrat MEP for the East Midlands commented:

"It's shocking, but perhaps not altogether surprising, that the Tories and UKIP have either voted against or point blankly refused to back new rules that that will help prevent young people from taking up smoking.

"From the beginning they have been seeking to delay this legislation and have played into the hands of big tobacco."

"I was quite frankly not surprised to see that UKIP leader Nigel Farage didn't even bother to turn up to vote in support of users of e-cigarettes, even though he was prepared to accept big money from a company that sells them."

Commenting on the outcome of the legislation on electronic cigarettes, Bill Newton Dunn commented:

"Tobacco control measures and e-cigarettes are two sides of the same coin - they exist to reduce smoking. That is why Liberal Democrats have worked hard to prevent overly restrictive regulation of e-cigarettes that could reduce their availability and usefulness for ex-smokers.

"While the outcome isn't everything that e-cig users wanted, it's a tremendous improvement compared to the original proposals. E-cigs won't come under medicinal regulation and the nicotine limit is five times higher than was originally proposed."

Electoral Commission records show that UKIP accepted £25,000 in May 2013 from Pillbox38, a Blackburn-based firm linked to Totally Wicked-E liquid electronic cigarettes: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/15/ukip-25000-donation-e-cigarette-firm.