There are more than 10,000 lobbyists in Brussels, all funded by big business to form alliances with bureaucrats and politicians in order to overcharge citizens, claims UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.
•Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, it is a 'given'. I do not intend to embark here on my libertarian crusade that we should all be able to go to the devil in our own way. Chips, fizzy drinks, alcohol, tobacco, obesity, lack of exercise, drinking a glass of wine a day, not drinking a glass of wine a day - depending on the fad of the latest medical magazine or what any quangocrat, who worms their way onto breakfast television sofas, says.
For those not in the know on electronic cigarettes, let me run some facts past you. Most of the health damage cigarettes cause is by the combustion in the smoking process. In short it is the smoke that does you harm, not the nicotine. I have spent some time researching this and can find no health scientist who takes a different view. The electronic cigarette takes smoke out of the procedure and replaces the experience of smoking and diminishes the nicotine craving in a similar way to the nicotine patch.
As smokers or ex-smokers will confirm it is the ritual of the procedure not just the nicotine, which encourages the addiction. There is also no scientific dispute as to the amount of nicotine imbibed by either system, it is the removal of smoke that has been the extraordinary breakthrough for those who wish to cut down or abandon the habit altogether. Of course there will be a few zealots reading this who have never smoked or the converts, ex-smokers who are the scourge of every dinner party. But most tolerant right-minded people would agree that this is a huge step forward for society in general.
In spite of the millions of pounds nanny state spends on anti-smoking it seems that one fifth of the population still smoke, which proves there is nothing so queer as folk. Incidentally, apropos of nothing my army experience showed officers in the 'better' regiments smoke and the corps generally does not. The other ranks all seem to smoke no matter how young but I digress.
The European Commission - how did we manage without it - has now published its proposal for revisions to the European Union Tobacco Products Directive. It appears to accept that electronic cigarettes fall outside its scope. But if the commission cannot regulate something it gets an institutional nosebleed so they have bunged it into the EU Medicines Directive 2001/83/EC. This means the small companies manufacturing these products will not be able to go through the hoops required of putting a new medicine on the market. Is this not all insane even by the standards of the EU?
We all thought so in my office. But one of my colleagues came up with the answer. There are more than 10,000 lobbyists in Brussels, all funded by big business to form alliances with bureaucrats and politicians in order to stitch up the punters. It seemed obvious to us initially that the tobacco barons had used their not inconsiderable muscle to keep people smoking the real thing but no, the end game benefits 'big pharma'. If it is medical they can clamp their iron grip on state health systems to corner the market and sell the product at five times the cost.
Obvious really, I cannot think how we did not spot it straight away. If you want to know how all this works you could do worse than read Against Leviathan, Government Power and a Free Society by Robert Higgs. Anyhow, we MEPs can still enjoy a good smoke in our members' bar. After all we are god's chosen people - not for us the restrictions on ordinary mortals. As Rudyard Kipling so aptly put it, a woman's only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke.
Godfrey Bloom is a UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom