It is very unusual to read a leader in the Daily Telegraph lauding MEPs for stopping a policy endorsed by the UK government. Yet this is what that newspaper did recently, hailing the revolt by Conservative and Lib Dem MEPs which threw a spanner in the works of an attempt by the Council and Commission to regulate e-cigarettes as medicines. This sounds a pretty obscure subject. And on the face of it, the government’s policy sounds harmless enough. After all cigarettes are very bad for you – and having let the smoking genie out of the bag, surely governments are right to be cautious about something that sounds very like them. But this is where the story gets interesting. Even after 50 years of throwing the policy book at cigarettes, around 20% of the population refuse to be priced, persuaded or regulated out of the habit – despite that fact that that habit will end up prematurely killing around half of them. Smoking is increasingly the domain of the poor and the vulnerable e.g. self-medicating schizophrenics. For years, those concerned about smoking have been seeking a safe(r) alternative – but they were badly bitten by their experience of low tar […]

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