James Dunworth

Member Article

How the EU could stub one company out

James Dunworth, co-founder of UK e-cig retailler, ECigaretteDirect.co.uk, looks at how one EU directive is threatening his business.

Many people believe we need the European Union to protect jobs, however if the EU get their way, it could put me out of business altogether.

In October 2012 the EU introduced the tobacco directive, declaring war on the electronic cigarette. It aims to assess the impact of tobacco related products and has identified e-cigs as one of the targets.

The electronic cigarette has been gaining in popularity over recent years. We’ve seen a growth of 40% in the last 12 months alone. It delivers a nicotine hit without the harmful effects of tobacco and has helped many thousands of smokers successfully switch from tobacco cigarettes.

Prior to the directive being published, we had heard rumours about its content and after the author was forced to resign after allegedly soliciting bribes from a tobacco company, we were hopeful it would be dropped. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

There are two things the EU wants to do – reduce the maximum nicotine allowed to 0.6%, which is not sufficient to satisfy a smoker’s needs, and restrict the number of flavours.

Both would hit our business and we’re fighting hard to stop it happening.

We’ve been in contact with our MEP to highlight the fact that electronic cigarettes do not encourage people to smoke, as supported through research by Action on Smoking and Health. We’ve highlighted opinions to our MEP from leading scientists and doctors emphasising they can help save lives.

We’ve also been using social media and our blogs to highlight there is a potential ban – many users were unaware of it.

If the legislation goes through there will be a direct impact on our sales. I foresee a sharp decline in our sales and the loss of jobs. We currently employ 14 members of staff in the UK who work across our two shops and our online operation.

As for the impact on users, that could be life threatening. I would expect to see a huge growth in a black market eliquid which contains nicotine, and as a result, an increase in health problems as this will not be regulated.

UK customers will look elsewhere for refills, so possibly purchase alternatives from abroad, whereas others will switch back to traditional tobacco cigarettes which will have a huge impact on their health. Just under two thirds or e-cigarette users say they would return to traditional cigarettes if the electronic version were unavailable according to studies by us and The Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives Association (CASAA).

We and other electronic cigarette retailers will be fighting hard to stop this directive going through. We have a thriving business which is providing jobs for local people. We have almost doubled the number of employees already this year and plan to more than double it by the end of 2013.

This is the perfect example of an unnecessary directive by EU bureaucrats preventing UK businesses from flourishing during tough economic times.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by ECigaretteDirect.co.uk .

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