Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion has vowed to continue to campaign for e-cigarette users after a key European Parliament committee voted for massive restrictions on their use.

Vapestick e-cigMEPs in the Environment Committee backed a call to treat e-cigarettes as medicines, reducing their availability compared to tobacco and putting big new costs on users.

E-cigarettes work by vaporising nicotine that is then inhaled, providing tobacco cigarette addicts with their 'hit' without many of the carcinogens and any of the passive or active smoking risks produced by conventional cigarettes.

Many smokers have instead become 'vapers' and claim it has helped them become healthier and that they are unlikely to go back to to tobacco smoking. The issue is not yet decided as the law surrounding e-cigarettes will now be the subject of a vote by the full European Parliament in the autumn.

Speaking in Brussels after the committee vote, Phil Bennion MEP said:

"After receiving many letters from concerned e-cigarette users in my constituency, I have been looking for evidence that these products are dangerous or harmful and so far there is very little. In an ideal world no-one would be addicted to nicotine, even in this less harmful way of absorbing it but we don't live in an ideal world and it seems very clear that it is better to 'vape' than to smoke.

"In fact all the evidence I have seen suggests E-cigarettes could be a game-changer in the decades-long public health battle to stamp out tobacco smoking.

"They can help people break their addiction more effectively than treatments like patches. More and more experts who have looked into it believe this could be a breakthrough that could save millions of lives. So it is senseless to make it more difficult and expensive to buy and use an e-cigarette than a tobacco cigarette. We should not throw away the prospect of this huge public health gain."

In the vote, Liberal Democrat MEPs were joined by the Conservatives and UKIP to vote against the new restrictions but Labour MEPs voted to reduce e-cigarette use by restricting them as medicines.

Phil added: "Labour MEPs may think they are protecting people from themselves but it seems clear that this over-restrictive approach to e-cigarettes will only hurt 'vapers' as they switch back to tobacco smoking.

"There are only a few weeks left to change people's minds and try and win the vote in the full Parliament."