Legal Rulings on Electronic Cigarettes by Country
Legal Rulings on Electronic Cigarettes by Country
Electronic Cigarettes are an interesting legal dilemma because, on one hand, they do share some similarities with smoking. But then again, on the other hand, they’re also different enough that smoking regulations don’t apply to them. There has also been a lot of discussion on whether or not they qualify as medical devices. In fact, many of the rulings that have been made in courts around the world have centered on this exact issue!
Legislating E-cigs has definitely become an issue that many countries have had to deal with, especially as the small nicotine-delivery systems get more and more popular. Some countries have passed more specific E-cig laws, while some have amended current tobacco laws to include the use of E-cigs. Of course, people have also been concerned with government regulation due to the fact that E-cigs use nicotine. Since nicotine can be a dangerous substance, many people feel that it’s important for the government to regulate their production and/or distribution.
And of course, there is always the issue of whether or not to sell E-cigs to minors. Not surprisingly, a lot of people believe that electronic cigarettes should only be sold to those 18 and over. ECITA itself actually agrees with this standard, which definitely seems fair and safe, in every sense of the word.
But since there were no previous regulations pertaining to this on the books, many countries have had to decide when and how to legislate it.
And these are really only the major issues. There are far more that we haven’t discussed that are incredibly important, both to vapers and to the general community. Vaping in public, vaping with children in the car, and establishing health code guidelines for manufacturers are just a few examples.
Everyone wants fair treatment – and keeping tabs on what other countries are doing in terms of E-cig regulation can help us to understand the global legal framework. This will not only help to solve current legal questions, but may also help to give us a glimpse into what types of laws might one day be passed in other countries – including our own.
E-cig laws seem to be pretty simple when it comes to Israel. Of course, things are made a bit complicated when you take into account that their laws are written in Hebrew – but according to headlines, it would indeed seem to be the case that their supreme court has actually ruled in favor of allowing the import of electronic cigarettes.
This overturned a previous decision, made by the Israeli Ministry of Health, who rejected the request and disallow it.
In February of 2012, a French court acquitted a woman after she was issued a ‘verbal infraction notice’ while using an electronic cigarette in an area where smoking was banned. The court ruled that the smoking ban dealt strictly with traditional cigarettes, and that since it was introduced during a time before E-cigs were in use, they ‘could not be likened to a traditional cigarette’.
There has actually been quite a bit of legal activity in Germany regarding E-cigs – starting with a ruling by the administrative Court of Köln in Germany in March of 2012. This ruling basically stated that E-cigs are not medical devices because sufficient proof had not been given that they help to wean people off of nicotine.
The Supreme Court of Sachsen-Anhalt State of Germany also made a ruling on this subject, in June of 2012. They basically ruled that the Medicinal Products Act was not applicable to electronic cigarettes. There was actually quite a bit of jargon in this ruling, some of which you can read for yourself on Ecita website.
The next ruling came in 2013, when the Supreme Administrative Supreme Court of North Rhine-Westphalia upheld three previous rulings that stated that electronic cigarettes and E-liquid could not be classified as medical products, because they did not ‘cure, mitigate, or prevent disease.’
Next came a ruling in 2014. This time, the 4th Division of the Higher Administrative Court for North Rhine-Westphalia decided that restaurants were not obliged to disallow E-cigs under the NISchG NRW smoking ban. This ruling came about when a city tried to tell a restaurant owner that he couldn’t permit his customers to use E-cigs in his establishment – thus, the ruling was in his favor, because with E-cigs, there is ‘no combustion, so no smoke is produced.’
And finally, on the 20th of November, the German Supreme Administrative Court ruled that E-cigs were not medical products or medical devices. This meant that local authorities could not ban businesses from selling E-liquids or E-cigs on the grounds that they were ‘unauthorized drugs’, and so forth.
In March of 2014, the Budapest District II/III Court ruled that E-cig cartridges (which were previously classified as pharmaceuticals) could be sold without a license from the National Pharmaceuticals Institute. This ruling came about when a small business was fined for selling E-liquid cartridges without such a license. As a result of the ruling, the business received a refund for the fine and also had the confiscated cartridges returned to it.
The s-Gravenhage Court in the Netherlands decided, in a ruling made on March 13th, 2012, that electronic cigarettes were not medicinal brands in nature, and that to classify them as such was ‘in violation of the law and the general principles of good governance, particularly the justification principle and the principle of legal certainty.’
The Tartu Administrative Court in Estonia made a ruling in 2013 that electronic cigarettes (specifically E-Lites) were not medical products in nature, and that if they were to be classified as such, then so did analog tobacco cigarettes as well.
You can read more about this ruling here: http://www.ecita.org.uk/legal-rulings/tartu-administrative-court.
The European Parliament
The European Parliament has made several different rulings regarding E-cigs – though the jargon is admittedly pretty complicated. You can view most of these rulings, along with rulings about analog cigarettes, on this page: http://ec.europa.eu/health/tobacco/products/revision/index_en.htm.
There is no doubt that electronic cigarettes should be classified differently than analog tobacco cigarettes – though most countries also agree that they’re not a smoking cessation device or a medical device.
This seems to be the common these in most regulations and rulings that I’ve seen – though it’s definitely too soon to tell if more regulations will be passed in the future. For example, in Wales, the smoking ban has been extended to include E-cigarettes (you can read about this here: https://ecigsuk.org.uk/wales-to-experience-first-of-its-kind-e-cig-ban/), despite the fact that cancer charities and others actually disagree with this – their reason being that doing so will make E-cigs too difficult to use for people who are trying to use them to quit smoking.
Information! Hopefully, in the future, governments and health departments all over the world will come to realize that making E-cigs more difficult to use isn’t necessarily the right approach – mostly because they are so much safer than analog tobacco cigarettes, and because they offer such an effective alternative.
No, at the moment, they can’t be classified as smoking cessation devices – but are they not valuable as a replacement?
Only time will tell where E-cigs end up in the courts – but hopefully, they’ll land in a good, safe spot.