I’m settling down to write this article on 25th May 2016. I had planned to do this a few weeks, or even months ago. However, we’ve been spending many a long day here at Red Vape preparing for the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), so spare time has been at a premium.
Why do I mention the date at the start of the post? Well, for those of you in the know the Tobacco Products Directive is a piece of EU legislation focused on tobacco-based products including e-Cigarettes and e-Liquids that came into force on 20th May 2016.
This piece of legislation has been controversial with legal challenges being raised by a number of parties including Totally Wicked, big tobacco manufacturers and even the Polish government supported by Romania. These challenges have not been successful, and the European Court of Justice ruled that the TPD is lawful. The BBC reported the story here.
So 20th May has come and gone, and chances are if you walk into your local vape store or take a look at your favourite online stores little will have changed.
So why all the fuss???
Well, the legislation may now be in place and part of European law, but it does allow one year for producers, manufacturers and retailers to comply. From a consumer perspective, this means that over the next 12 months changes will start to filter through that dramatically affect the UK vaping market.
Within this article, I will endeavour to explain what precisely the Tobacco Products Directive is and also highlight the key points that effect e-Cigarettes and e-Liquids. I’ll show you what changes you can expect from a consumer side of things and also the new measures that producers, manufacturers and brands such as Red Vape now have to take to comply fully with the legislation.
I’ll try and keep the law jargon to a minimum but, on the off chance that anyone reading this loves nothing more than perusing European and UK Legislative documents you can find them by clicking links below. Enjoy!!
What is the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)
The Tobacco Products Directive 2014 is a piece of European legislation which is designed to govern a number of aspects of smoking regulation. It covers the manufacturing, sale and presentation, including product design and packaging, of all tobacco products and related products.
The TPD covers all aspects of smoking including;
- Traditional Cigarettes
- Roll your own tobacco
- Pipe Tobacco
- Smokeless tobacco products
- Herbal products designed for smoking
- And Electronic Cigarettes and related products (such as eliquids)
If you have already done some research into the TPD, or you were brave enough to read through the full legislative documents on the links above, then you may have come across ‘Article 20’. This is the key part of the TPD that covers Electronic Cigarettes and E-Liquids.
There are a number of excellent articles discussing Article 20 and the TPD in general which I would recommend you read. My aim with this post is to supply information relating to the TPD, and I will only touch on some of the issues that we believe it presents. For more detailed views take a look at;
TPD (Article 20) - What it means for the Consumer
As I mentioned above, it is Article 20 within the TPD that expressly focuses on Electronic Cigarettes and related products including e-Liquids. There is a lot to deal with here, so I’m focusing on the main points.
Limiting the size of e-liquid containers
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “Member states must ensure that nicotine-containing liquid is only placed on the market in dedicated refill containers not exceeding a volume of 10 ml, in disposable electronic cigarettes or in single-use cartridges and that the cartridges or tanks do not exceed a volume of 2 ml.”
What this means in layman's terms – The maximum bottle size for e-Liquids under the TPD is 10ml. With a disposable or single-use ecig the maximum volume of e-Liquids allowable is 2ml.
Why was this introduced – Bit of a guessing game but the most likely reason is to reduce the potential harm done should someone drink a bottle of e-Liquid.
How will this affect the consumer – There is currently no limitation on bottle sizes for e-Liquids and on many websites they are available up to 180ml. Average bottle sizes are probably a little less with 10ml to 40ml being common. To comply with the TPD, all bottle sizes will need to be reduced to 10ml or less. This is likely to mean price increases for the consumer as the cost of packaging has more of an impact on the manufacturer’s costs.
Limiting nicotine content in e-Liquids
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “Member states must ensure that the nicotine-containing liquid does not contain nicotine in excess of 20 mg/ml.”
What this means in layman's terms – Nice and easy this one, quite simply e-liquids cannot have a higher Nicotine level than 20mg.
Why was this introduced – This brings e-Cigarettes in line with traditional cigarettes and means that vapers do not absorb more nicotine than they would through regular smoking.
How will this affect the consumer – With the risk of people shouting at me this is possibly one of the less contentious points as most juices are currently 18mg or lower. Therefore, there won’t be a huge impact. However, it does limit choice, and for vapers used to liquids over 20mg, it will mean they may have to vape more and therefore spend more.
Packaging to include warning leaflets
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “Member States must ensure that ‘unit packets of electronic cigarettes and refill containers include a leaflet with information on; (i) instructions for use and storage of the product, including a reference that the product is not recommended for use by young people and non-smokers; (ii) contra-indications; (iii) warnings for specific risk groups; (iv) possible adverse effects; (v) addictiveness and toxicity; and (vi) contact details of the manufacturer or importer and a legal or natural contact person within the Union.”
What this means in layman's terms – Warning/Information leaflets must be included with all electronic cigarettes and e-Liquids sold.
Why was this introduced – This is designed to give consumers more information while also detailing the risks of the product.
How will this affect the consumer – This may also seem quite minor and in some respects it is. However, for those of you who’ve smoked recently or opened a packet of traditional cigarettes, you’ll know that all you do is throw away the information leaflet without really reading it………..Oh no, wait one sec…………there isn’t one is there!!!
This begs the very obvious question of why e-cigarettes and liquids need a leaflet when traditional cigarettes don’t?
From a consumer side, the main issue will be price increases. Not only will manufacturers need to produce leaflets to go inside every box, but many will also have to start producing boxes for their liquids as well so they can include the leaflets.
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “Member states must ensure that ‘electronic cigarettes and refill containers are child and tamper-proof, are protected against breakage and leakage and have a mechanism that ensures refilling without leakage.”
What this means in layman's terms – Another reasonably easy to understand one, put simply ecigs and juices need to be child and tamper-proof and suitable measures need to be taken to prevent breakage and leakage.
Why was this introduced – Primarily this is targeted again at drinking e-Liquids which is why child safety caps are now law. It also helps protect against tampering, so you know that nothing nasty has been added to your liquid after it left the manufacturer.
How will this affect the consumer – This depends on how vigorously the law is enforced. As users of tank devices will know it’s common for a couple of drops of liquid to escape during the process. Currently, there isn’t a method of preventing this because it’s not really an issue as this volume of liquid isn’t harmful. If the law is followed to the letter this would mean refillable devices are no longer permitted due to the risk of spillage. That would leave us with none-refillable, disposable cigalikes as they would be considered the only safe option.
Consistent dosage of nicotine
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “Member States must ensure that electronic cigarettes deliver the nicotine doses at consistent levels under normal conditions of use.”
What this means in layman's terms – Every puff you take should contain the same level of nicotine.
Why was this introduced – To ensure consistency across the market and a better experience for the user.
How will this affect the consumer – As with many of these points it all depends on enforcement and how this is rolled out in the real world. Vapers are able to regulate their own intake by taking shorter or longer puffs and then inhaling to different degrees. Creating devices that remove this ability or heavily reduce it will make vaping less appealing. It’s also worth pointing out traditional cigarettes are not subject to this type of regulation.
Notification of new products
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “Manufacturers and importers of electronic cigarettes and refill containers shall submit a notification to the competent authorities of the Member States of any such products which they intend to place on the market. The notification shall be submitted in electronic form six months before the intended placing on the market. For electronic cigarettes and refill containers already placed on the market on 20 May 2016, the notification shall be submitted within six months of that date”
What this means in layman's terms – Every new product introduced onto the market must have a notification of intent to launch six months before doing so.
Why was this introduced – This provides market control and means that new products can be monitored.
How will this affect the consumer – This does not only affect new products but all existing products already on the market. Let’s take Red Vape as an example. We have 13 flavours in the e-Liquid range. Each nicotine strength is classed an individual product which means we have a total product range of 45 liquids. For every liquid, we need to submit a notification to the ‘competent authority’, which in the case of the UK is the MHRA. The notification process is not free. Each product is subject to a £150 initial charge with a subsequent £60 annual charge being applied. So, back to Red Vape, our current product range of 45 liquids will cost £6750 in initial notification charges plus a yearly charge of £2700. Why am I telling you all this? The costs involved in bringing new products or simply completing notification for existing ranges may be too much for many smaller brands and manufacturers. The likelihood is that larger producers will start to trim back their ranges, maybe by dropping slower selling flavours or less popular nicotine strengths. Smaller companies may simply pull out of the market entirely. It is also safe to say that the number of new products coming onto the market will slow down dramatically. All of this will mean less choice for the consumer, with fewer brands, fewer flavours and limited nic strengths to pick from.
What Article 20 of the TPD says – “‘Commercial communications in Information Society services, in the press and other printed publications, with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers are prohibited, except for publications that are intended exclusively for professionals in the trade of electronic cigarettes or refill containers [...] any form of public or private contribution to radio programmes with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers is prohibited. Purely domestic advertising (e.g. in cinemas and at point of sale) cannot and will not be banned by the EU.”
What this means in layman's terms – Advertising of e-Cigarettes and related products is banned.
Why was this introduced – As with traditional cigarettes this is a move to stop none smokers and young people taking up vaping.
How will this affect the consumer – No more adverts of any form putting vaping in the same bracket as traditional cigarettes.
What does the future have in store?
As I mentioned right at the start of this article, the TPD came into force on the 20th May 2016. There is a year to comply so by the 20th May 2017 all the above points, in whatever form that they eventually take, will be fully active.
While a number of legal challenges to the Tobacco Products Directive have already been raised and failed, there is a motion in the House of Lords which you can lend your support to by visiting change.org.
Will this help? In all honesty, probably not. As Vic from’ Vaping with Vic’ puts it the fight is over, and the battle is lost. You can take a look at his feelings on the TPD in the video below.
We’ll do our best to keep people updated on any developments and we ask that you tweet, favourite and do whatever else you can on social media to promote this article. The more vapers (and none vapers) that know of the changes coming the better. We may not be able to stop the TPD being introduced but the more people that are aware, the more support we can build to help change it in the future.