Hazel Mabe | 14 December 2013
As in the rest of Europe, e-cigarettes were first introduced in Germany around 2007. Since then there has been a massive increase in their use and it is estimated that there are two million vapers in Germany. It is estimated that around 7% use first generation cigalike products, and 93% second and third generation.
The current German regulatory framework works in much the same way as the US, with varying regulations from one federal state to another.
In terms of the EU legislative process, the German government seems to be waiting for Brussels to come to a final decision and then will follow through, whatever the result will be. We have been unable to get a reliable statement from any of the presently active politicians or administrators, when asked for the German position, and on which grounds they would justify it. However, looking at our German rapporteur of the trialogue, Matthias Groote (SPD) and also the shadow rapporteur, Karl-Heinz Florenz (CDU), we do not have much hope that either of them will make a strong case for the Parliament’s vote of 8th October. While Groote has been fighting side-by-side with Linda McAvan for the pharmaceutical regulation from the beginning and it has been clear ever since that we can’t expect any support from him, Florenz belongs to the other fraction who voted for a less restrictive legislation – however personally, abstained from voting on October 8th.
We have campaigned strongly against the Commission’s as well as the Council’s view including writing extensively to MEPs (*) (see e.g. here and here) as well as to officials within the German administration, and to Chancellor Angela Merkel. The response so far has been silence.
We have also been active in gaining media interest by publishing a more outspoken article (see here), but apart from a few media agencies, the German press seems to be unwilling to take up our messages. They are mostly infiltrated by the anti-smoking movement, their related agencies and of course, the official media channels of WHO and their numerous subsidiaries, like DKFZ (German Centre for Cancer Research) the news of which they spread without any further critical investigation.
At the beginning of this month (Dec. 2013), we were invited to participate in the Annual German Conference for Tobacco Control hosted by DKFZ in order to try to promote a public health and harm reduction approach using new nicotine delivering products.
German vapers, both inside and outside IG-ED, are also politically active using social media like Facebook and Twitter.
In order to try to get better communications between vaping organisations across Europe we have started a European umbrella organisation. The first manifestation of this is a Facebook group – European Vapers United Network (EVUN) which has gained around 360 members in less than 6 weeks.
We think that medical regulation would kill the most promising approach to overcome the excessive use of tobacco - it would yield much worse consequences in Germany than e.g. in Great Britain due to the different national approaches to pharmaceutical regulations. The best approach would be to just consider them consumer products with all applying regulations already in place (e.g. for the electronic parts) and where necessary, create a rather liberal regulation for quality standards of e.g. nicotine liquids.
*) More links to our publications/mails/letters in English – in descending chronological order:
Petition in English: http://ig-ed.org/presse/petition/PT_EN.pdf
Hazel Mabe is an active member of IG-ED e.V. since June 2013 and concerned with helping with the organisation’s publications in German and English as well as maintaining international relations.
IG-ED e.V. (http://ig-ed.org - Interessengemeinschaft E-Dampfen) is the first consumer organisation of German speaking vapers. It was established in 2011 and works voluntarily and independently of e-cigarette producers and retailers. The objective is to raise awareness about e-cigarettes and to advocate for a good regulatory framework.