Public Health

French Court Rules E-Cigarettes are a Tobacco Product, Even Though They Contain No Tobacco

Can't laugh at France, same thing's happening in America

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le sigh
Leonardo Rodriguez/Foter.com

The war on e-cigarettes continues across the world. A licensed tobacconist in Plaisance-du-Touch, France filed a complaint against an e-cigarette retailer that set up shop nearby, complaining that the e-cigarette retailer was violating French public health codes, including by advertising e-cigarettes. In France only licensed tobacconists can sell tobacco products, under a state-imposed monopoly, and they cannot advertise them. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, but no tobacco. Neverthless, a French court agreed with the tobacconist, ruling that because e-cigarettes were an alternative to a tobacco product, they too constituted a tobacco product and the e-cigarette retailer presented "unfair competition" to registered tobacconists. The e-cigarette retailer will appeal the ruling, but France 24 reports the decision may already have wide ranging effects across the country:

"This sets a precedent that says that the sale of all products for smoking is restricted to licensed tobacconists," said Bertrand Desarnauts, the lawyer for the tobacconist who filed the complaint.

"This ruling implies that other sellers of electronic cigarettes will no longer be able to sell them in stores or on the Internet."

According to figures from the French Office for Smoking Prevention, there were 141 e-cigarette shops in France as of April 2013, but experts estimate this number could rise to 300 by the end of the year.

Commenting on Monday's ruling, France's Electronic Cigarette Stakeholders Group (CACE) said the court's decision could put 2,500 jobs at risk if it resulted in e-cigarette shops going out of business.

It claimed that e-cigarettes are "a consumer product and not a tobacco product" and accused the court in Toulouse of having "exceeded its powers".

There are 1.5 million users of e-cigarettes in France according to the government, which is considering imposing the same bans on the use of e-cigarettes as it does on actual cigarettes as well as a ban on the sale of them to minors.

Reason TV sat down to discuss the growth of the e-cigarette industry and the push for more regulations with the CEO of e-cigarette maker NJOY, which you can watch below:

More Reason on e-cigarettes here

NEXT: European Regulators Say Aspartame Sugar Substitute Is Safe

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  1. Looks like “social tolerance” has it limits. Who woulda thunk.

    1. Rahm Emmanuel on the radio telling ecig makers “You are not welcome here!” in Chicago. Them and also Chik-fil-a apparently.

    1. + une

  2. Well shit yes! Can’t have the people with addictions not giving that weekly or daily tax hit to the government, now, can we?

    1. it’s true. I use ecigs and no joke, I smoke like one tenth what I used to. I bum somewhere between 2-4 cigs a day from some of my family. I used to smoke almost a pack a day.

      Strange for all the nanny shit people put in to get people to quit, along comes a product that works very well-maybe too well-that may dry up the a lucrative tax base.

  3. Johnny Cash smoked at the age of 12. Since he released At Folsom Prison, the number of smokers and great live concert albums have both declined. I rest my case.

  4. Government: Ignoring science when it suits the Greater Good.

    1. What are you talking about? Consensus is the new science! Obviously there was a consensus, even if it was a consensus of one! Consensus!

  5. Cargo cultism is ascendant.

    1. Animism is ascendant.

      1. I’m trying not to steal your lines.

  6. We’re just asking for some reasonable regulation of this potentially dangerous product that looks a lot like another dangerous product. Think of the children! (of the licensed tobacconists, and what their Christmas might look like if Mommy and Daddy have to face real competition.)

  7. If you want to see fascism at its best, look at France. They may be in a state of permanent economic crisis, with people facing jail time if they use the wrong work, and the youth struggling to find work, but they manage to maintain a standard of living that is almost acceptable.

    It’s like being the fastest quadraplegic, the least anti-semitic Nazi, or the smartest member of Congress.

  8. Neverthless, a French court agreed with the tobacconist, ruling that because e-cigarettes were an alternative to a tobacco product, they too constituted a tobacco product…

    I hereby declare that, since airplanes are an alternative to trains, they should be referred to as trains from now on and follow the same rules.

    See? I am just as smart as a French judge.

    1. See? I am just as smart as a French judge.

      Or someone who supports redefining marriage.

      *ducks*

    2. Yeah, airplanes are just trains without tracks. Although, since they are an alternative to airplanes and therefore (logically speaking) also trains…then they, too, must also run on tracks.

      But walking is also an alternative to trains…oh my God.

      WE ARE ALL TRAINS.

      1. *alternative to trains. The European sophistication of that judge crossed me up.

    3. I was going to point out something similar:
      Changing the foods you eat is an alternative to weight loss drugs.
      So every food must go through the FDA’s drug testing regime.
      Unless they declare themselves fattening.

    4. “Neverthless, a French court agreed with the tobacconist, ruling that because e-cigarettes were an alternative to a tobacco product, they too constituted a tobacco product…”

      A post modern nanny state? I mean look how fucked up that sentence actually is. When a judge gets away with that, it really is time to admit that there is no such thing as “law” really.

  9. WHat fucking idiocy. Is Nicorette gum a tobacco product too?

    1. Don’t give them any ideas.

    2. Since not smoking tobacco is an alternative to cigarettes, is fresh air now a tobacco product?

      /mind blown

    3. Gum of any kind is an alternative to cigarettes.

  10. Neverthless, a French court agreed with the tobacconist, ruling that because e-cigarettes were an alternative to a tobacco product, they too constituted a tobacco product and the e-cigarette retailer presented “unfair competition” to registered tobacconists.

    So if a guy who’s trying to quit starts eating lollipops as a substitute for his cigarettes, does that make lollipops a tobacco product? How can they even pretend to have a rationale for this that doesn’t boil down to protecting the established cronies?

    1. I believe it’s the va te faire foutre, c’est pourquoi rationale.

      1. va te faire foutre, c’est pourquoi

        That’s funny. Plug “fuck you, that’s why” into English, and that’s what google translate gives you for French. Reverse it and it translates back into “fucking, so.”

        1. This should’ve been the alt text

        2. The correct translation is : “va te faire foutre, voila pourquoi”.

    2. Because “vas te faire encule, c’est pourquoi”.

  11. a French court agreed with the tobacconist, ruling that because e-cigarettes were an alternative to a tobacco product, they too constituted a tobacco product…

    So a frying pan is now a gun?

    1. A giraffe is now a cat.

    2. A whore is in a polygamous marriage?

      Porn is soccer?

  12. Huh isn’t pot like tobacco as well?

    1. This post is a tobacco product.

      1. C’est ne pas une pipe.

        1. Le juge est une merde.

        2. Can’t believe it took this long for this reference to appear.

        3. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”

  13. In France only licensed tobacconists can sell tobacco products, under a state-imposed monopoly

    Back in 1998, a pack of name brand smokes in France was already upto like $6. They were just over $2/pack here at the time.

    1. Looking forward to licenced pot dealers under a state-imposed monopoly.

      Judging by the state of booze since the end of Prohibition I guess it’ll take another 200 years to get a deregulated pot market.

      1. The illegal pot market is regulated?

        1. The illegal pot market is regulated?

          Ok. I suppose I could argue that being illegal is some sort of regulation but instead I’ll amend what a I said.

          Once pot is legal than I guess it’ll take another 200 hundred years to be deregulated.

  14. “. . . ruling that because e-cigarettes were an alternative to a tobacco product, they too constituted a tobacco product . . .

    So like, gum, is a regulated product in France now?

    1. What product isn’t regulated in France? Or even the US?

  15. Big Pharma has paid off a LOT of people to get rid of this product.

    1. Lorillard is showing big growth in their e-cig business, and the one publicly traded e-cig company has gone from .22/share to just under 2 bucks in less than a year.

  16. Just stop using the ecig label. It’s not a cigarette, it’s a nicotine distribution device. It’s a water vapor maker. Maybe we should call them Teddy Bears or F-16s. (And my testimonial: Switched to vapor device two months ago, have stopped smoking completely after 27 years. And have gone from giving the government $4 a day — the tax price on my cigarettes to giving it about 30 cents a week, sales tax on ecig juice.) I can see why governments are upset over this, it’s for the childrens — and their insurance.

    1. And have gone from giving the government $4 a day

      That’s the problem.

  17. At this point why bother. It’s beyond anyone’s control. Best to stop fighting it and just let them ruin the world.

  18. Mostly OT: According to the Wikipedia article, the town of Plaisance-du-Touch has, and I quote, “…a fine church with a notable organ…”

    With a name like that, I’ll bet it does.

    1. yes but does it have a 12-inch pianist?

  19. If you like your insurance, you can keep your alternative to insurance, which is no insurance.

    -Baraque Eaubama

  20. Never underestimate the government’s ability to ban or regulate something through sheer force of will.

  21. I thought harm reduction is a progressive notion.

    Or maybe it is only with injected drugs.

  22. “In soviet France, laissez faire-“..well, doesn’t exist, that’s for sure. And apparently neither does sense that used to be presumed common.

  23. The government puts its considerable weight behind forcing people to stop smoking and then an obesity epidemic breaks out. Who could have seen that coming?

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