A leading UK electronic cigarette company has launched a legal battle over a European Union directive it fears will lead to stringent new regulations and stifle the market.
A High Court judge has agreed to Totally Wicked taking its case to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in Luxembourg.
The company argues the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) breaches EU law in seeking to regulate e-cigarettes, despite the fact they contain no tobacco.
Mr Justice Green, sitting in London, said the case should be sent to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling on the legality of the directive. A hearing is expected next year.
Totally Wicked’s managing director Fraser Cropper said Article 20 of the directive would result in e-cigarettes being subjected to a stricter regulatory regime than some tobacco products.
He said: “Not only is this article therefore disproportionate, we believe it is also contrary to established EU law.
“It is therefore vitally important that the UK court has decided that the CJEU should make a ruling on the lawfulness of Article 20.
“For the sake of e-cigarette users and potential users, it is vital that our industry is allowed to mature within a proportionate regulatory framework, which supports appropriate controls and safety requirements, and necessary social responsibility and continues to provide consumer choice to maximise the enormous potential of these products.
“Article 20 of this directive patently will not deliver this environment.”
Susan Garrett, partner with law firm Addleshaw Goddard, which is mounting the challenge, said: “Totally Wicked believes that the Tobacco Products Directive is a misconceived and disproportionate attempt to regulate electronic cigarettes.
“Today’s decision is a key milestone for our client, given the impact it believes the directive will have in stifling this emerging market.”