ECF Policy Statement
Here is a concise statement of ECF policy. An expansion of this view in specific areas may be available.
What ECF is
The E-Cigarette Forum (ECF) is an online resource for discussion of and data relating to e-cigarettes and related topics.
It is a global central point of contact for the community and the industry. The site publishes debate, opinions and comment; articles by independent authors; and opinion on technical, health and legal issues. There are no staff writers.
Who our audience is
ECF's main customers are the Members. It is our intention to provide them with the best platform for debate, the best source of information, and the best consumer resources.
The second customer group are Suppliers, who are commercial traders providing a service to Members. Facilities are provided to Suppliers for free except where they require additional services.
A third customer group are the visitors, who are neither Members nor Registered Suppliers.
How ECF is run
ECF employs staff and volunteers internationally. Advertising provides an income for full-time and part-time staff, for the Supplier review and oversight system, and for the mediation system in disputes.
ECF is owned and operated by a Limited Company incorporated in London, England. Contacts can be found on the Contact Us page, linked to at the top and bottom of every page. ECF operates under English law.
ECF issues guidelines to Suppliers as to what may be displayed on our website. ECF does not control the content of external sites and cannot do so.
In order to appear on the ECF site a Supplier with a website needs to first remove any dishonest or unprovable statements from their site. This is the only requirement for sites linked to, and as far as ECF can go where external websites are concerned. It is required in order to protect both the Supplier and ECF.
ECF does not approve Suppliers.
ECF does not approve products.
ECF does not control what is published or offered for sale on other websites, is not in a position to do so, and does not want to do so. ECF provides a central resource, it is not an industry approvals organisation of any sort nor a regional products approval institute nor a trading standards authority.
Product approvals and safety
ECF cannot operate a Product Approvals system for the 500-plus Suppliers registered with us, nor wants to do so.
Consumers are advised to buy only products that have a UL or CE approval mark, or the appropriate approval for their region. Trading standards organisations in each country operate their respective product approvals systems, and ECF advises that all products should comply.
ECF cannot enforce regional laws controlling product sales since it has no mechanisms for doing so, would not be competent to, and could not afford to do so. Customers of external websites are advised that they should determine their local laws and comply with them.
ECF provides resources for community advocates but does not in itself engage in advocacy, since it is not an advocacy organisation.
ECF will provide fundraising resources for campaigning organisations and medical research if suitable proof of value is provided.
Currently, e-cigarettes are in the middle of an introductory process in many regions. The legislative climate differs from country to country.
ECF supports the classification and taxation of the e-cigarette as (in the following order):
1. A consumer product of the same type as tobacco or alcohol
2. An alternative nicotine product of the consumer variety
3. A Harm Reduction product
4. A tobacco product
ECF does not support, and will actively assist campaigns against, the classification of e-cigarettes as a pharmaceutical or medical device of any kind, or as a medicine. Neither cigarettes nor alcohol are licensed medicines and there is no reason to classify e-cigarettes as a medicine since they are clearly not, and clearly a consumer product. In addition, according to the majority of doctors who have expressed an opinion, they are clearly safer than tobacco cigarettes.
The future: a two-tier system
Some Suppliers with very large resources may wish to have a product manufactured, clinically-trialled, produced specially, and licensed as a pharmaceutical. There is no reason to prevent this, or to prevent Suppliers who have taken this option from representation on ECF. Any consumer product can be specially produced, and then licensed, as a pharmaceutical. It does not need to start out as or exclusively be a pharmaceutical.
ECF envisages that in the future there will be a 2-tier system with respect to the sale of e-cigarettes: (1) consumer products and (2) medical products. We intend to support the sale of both and see no reason why this is not feasible.
As long as it is recognised that ecigarettes are a consumer product, we have no issue with such a 2-tier system. If some Suppliers wish to allocate resources to medical production and licensing, we see no problem, as it does not affect consumer products. We will be happy to support both types.
In this connection the correct definitions of Harm Reduction and Harm Management should be given.
Harm Reduction is a consumer choice process whereby consumers choose products that seem preferable in some way that may affect health. This is a standard consumer process and for example involves choices such as low-tar cigarettes, condoms, and low-alcohol beer. All these are Harm Reduction products. Harm Reduction is not a medical process although the term can be used, as a secondary meaning, as a catch-all phrase to cover everything in this area, both consumer and medical.
Harm Management is medical oversight of this process and is applied when licensed medical products are used.
E-cigarettes are a consumer product and a consumer Harm Reduction choice. If a specific e-cigarette is produced and licensed as a pharmaceutical, then if prescribed by a health professional it becomes a Harm Management product.
All medical use of medical products is Harm Management. Many common consumer choices cannot be termed Harm Management and cannot be licensed as there is no applicable licensing regime for, eg, low-alcohol beer, which is a recognized Harm Reduction product. Harm Reduction is not a medical process, and is clearly recognized by the medical profession as as firstly a consumer process, and secondly as a catch-all term.
Types of hardware and refills
ECF supports the supply of, and legitimization of, all current popular types of hardware including 2-piece ecigarettes, 3-piece ecigarettes, and mods (extended duty cycle ecigarettes).
Since all products offered for sale either must have (in some regions) or should have (in regions where there is no such requirement) a suitable local product merchantability approval such as a UL or CE mark, ECF sees no reason why e-cigarettes should not comply with this requirement.
ECF believes that e-liquids should be analyzed and certified as safe for human consumption, at a frequency determined by a suitable trade body. We do not think it reasonable that refills should be imported and sold to consumers without some form of testing and certification, since food, drink, tobacco or alcohol are not considered safe for consumption without some form of testing.
ECF supports the introduction of a sustainable taxation system for e-cigarettes and/or refill liquids that contain tobacco products, at an early date. The rationale is simply that when for example 10% of smokers have converted to e-cigarettes, the taxation deficit will need to be made up in some way, and it is better to establish a sensible system now rather than have an excessively harsh value imposed later.
Logically, somebody somewhere has to test and certify ecigarette products as safe - either as of merchantable quality, or in the case of refill liquids, as safe for human consumption.
It is arguable that hardware can be tested solely by local trading standards authorities, though the situation may be different for refill liquids. Currently, local authorities in some areas are testing and certifying liquids as safe for human consumption.
It is not possible for refill liquids to remain untested and and uncertified in any country with established consumer protections in place.
ECF believes that the best policy would be for trade organisations locally to organize some form of trade regulations and testing, perhaps with reference to a global trade body. The alternative is government-applied certification and this is not normally a preferred option. We think suppliers need to establish trade bodies to organize this aspect themselves. The advantages would be that a pre-existing framework would be in place for regulators in each country to refer to, and that trade preferences would be in place before government imposed their own.
The likely result of strict regulation
A strict regulatory regime, or classification as a medicine, or a ban - which are all essentially the same thing - would have several effects, which have all been seen before so are well-known. Indeed, there have been consumer products of a slightly unusual class, just like ecigarettes, where this occurred and the results were always the same:
- A black market comes into being. In the case of e-cigarettes, this can be expected to be on a massive scale, with widespread public support of those ignoring the ban.
- A struggle at high cost for several years to maintain the ban.
- Eventual capitulation and an about-turn, due to public pressure and the impossibility of maintaining a ban in the face of widespread use.
- The waste of large amounts of taxpayers' money.
- The loss of tax revenue for that period.
- After defeat, a loss of respect for law and government.
- Recognition of the incompetence of the government dept. in charge.
Trying to ban ecigarettes is like standing in front of a tsunami: not something that can possibly have any form of happy outcome.
The sensible route is to legitimize and tax. Set a timescale of one year for a trade body to be established and to self-regulate, establish a sustainable tax regime - and fix any laws or regulations that appear to stand in the way of progress. Times change, old laws cannot and will not stop that process.
Last edited by rolygate; 06-07-2011 at 12:07 PM.