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The European Free Vaping Initiative

The European Free Vaping Initiative is a registered "European Citizens' Initiative" (ECI), which will grant an opportunity to meet directly with EU Commission officials and present the "free vaping" case.

The organization registered as an ECI on 25 November, 2013, back when it looked like a total public use ban was as a possibility in some countries, medicalisation loomed as another threat, and the issue of refillable cartridges threatened to derail everything. This registration date determines that the organisation has until 25 November, 2014, exactly one year, to collect a million signatures of citizens of the 28 countries of the European Union. Signature collection is proceeding apace, and it is easy to sign at the EFVI website.

The registration document lists as the initiative's "Subject Matter": "Classification of electronic cigarettes and related products through legislation as general purpose recreational products, and not as medicinal, tobacco or similar products, regardless of nicotine content." This mission has taken on renewed importance with the passage of the amended and utterly ill-informed Tobacco Products Directive, which is expected to drive thousands back to smoking and thus death, promises to radically limit the range of choices available to vapers, and gives tremendous advantages to Big Tobacco in its efforts to crush smaller companies and keep smoking alive, even as it rakes in money from selling its antidote.

The initiative's website speaks of the desire to keep alive the "rich culture of vaping that we now enjoy in member states where vaping is unregulated," and also of the need to "allow affected manufacturers and vendors to stay in business, without being either crippled or burdened with unnecessary time and money consuming licensing procedures." The blog of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Standards Association, which is a trade group rather than a citizens' group, has endorsed this citizen action group and urged readers to go to the site and sign.

The initiative has a facebook page as well, replete with a great deal of community participation. The level of outrage that the TPD is generating is truly extraordinary, leading one to expect that sufficient signatures will be collected handily. It looks as though even non-EU-citizens can join the facebook page to give moral support to the movement, even though they cannot add their names to the initiative's signatures.

One graphic on the facebook page shows a picture of MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Linda McAvan, a pivotal figure in the campaign for passage, with the caption "Congratulations to Ms. Linda McAvan, she worked really hard to secure the premature death of 105,000 European citizens per annum." The number quoted was the estimate projected in Matt Ridley's recent London Times article.

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