BLACKBURN company Totally Wicked is mounting a legal challenge to proposed European Union restrictions on electronic cigarettes.

The Shadsworth Business Park firm has been given permission to challenge Brussels’ Tobacco Products Directive at the EU’s Court of Justice.

It claims the rules, due in May 2016, could break EU competition laws by putting E-cigs under tighter restrictions than some tobacco products including pipes, cigars and conventional cigar-ettes.

The firm, which employs 100 people, has launched the legal chall- enge on behalf of the rest of the booming E-cig industry, which includes two other East Lancashire firms, The Electronic Cigarette Company and Liberty Flights of Darwen, Totally Wicked’s case says the directive, approved in April, places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products breaching the EU principle of equality and the rights of manufacturers.

A hearing will take place on October 6 for a judge to determine the question being referred.

With implementation due in May 2016, a hearing will take place next year provided legal details are confirmed.

Totally Wicked’s managing director Fraser Cropper said: “Many of the regulations contained within the Tobacco Products Directive would subject electronic cigarettes to an even stricter regulatory regime than some tobacco products.

“Not only is it disproportionate, we believe it is contrary to established EU law.

“For nearly 30 million people in the EU, electronic cigarettes provide a viable alter-native to smoking tobacco cigarettes.”

The proposed regul-ations will ban reusable devices with high nicotine hits, limiting the amount of nicotine to levels similar to ordinary cigarettes but not stronger brands, pipes and cigars.