Regulators and enforcers throughout the world share a common interest in detecting risk, unsafe products and illegal or unfair commercial practices.
Thousands of counterfeit products enter the EU market, without any safety checks and violating our trade rules.
These include all kinds of products, from toys, electrical devices, medicines, to cosmetics and tobacco.
Looking at how many of these goods are currently available in the EU, it is obvious that regulating at an EU level is not sufficient.
Urgent action is needed to protect European consumers and producers. This includes better protection at our borders, which have so many holes they resemble Swiss cheese.
Tobacco producers face significant problems regarding illegal trade. Novel tobacco products and eCigarettes differ from conventional tobacco products in many ways.
There are many new products available on the market. In general, a large variety of similar products is a good thing for consumers, but it is important to know if regulators are prepared for this level of complexity. What we know for sure is that there is no compliance structure in place at EU level.
"Protecting consumers and ensuring products are safe – particularly those brought in from third countries – remains problematic and requires urgent attention and adequate solutions at EU level"
Safety starts with standards. For the time being, only the French national organisation for standardisation has developed standards for eCigarettes.
The European committee for standardisation is currently working on the issue. However, the process of standardisation is slow and further efforts from all EU member states are needed.
The main legal act regulating the trade of tobacco products is the tobacco products directive; member states are responsible for its transposition and enforcement at national level.
As the procedures and pace of the transposition is different in each member state, this creates inconsistency and opens the floodgates to unsafe counterfeit tobacco products.
Protecting consumers and ensuring products are safe – particularly those brought in from third countries – remains problematic and requires urgent attention and adequate solutions at EU level.
That is why a regulation, uniformly applied across the European Union in all member states, could be one solution for protecting consumers and the European market against potentially harmful products and illegal trade.
We should also rethink the ban on advertising for tobacco products, as consumers need more information about how much less harmful eCigarettes are and how they could help them quit smoking.