The Tobacco Products Directive 2016 – Electronic Cigarettes

Back in 2001, the first EU Tobacco Products Directive was released as a mechanism to reduce tobacco usage across Europe and ensure accountability within the industry. Until very recently, electronic cigarettes have fallen outside the mischief of the TPD in terms of regulation and restrictions. However, revisions have been made and will manifest themselves in a revised Tobacco Products Directive which comes into force on the 20th of May 2016.

The new regulations seek to classify electronic cigarettes as a ‘tobacco related product’ which means it inherits a number of restrictions as to sale, quantities, packaging, and other industry standards. The changes, which were compiled with a number of other proposals after several failed attempts to achieve a majority on the revisions, are introduced as a method of safeguarding both users and wider society especially as long-term risks associated with ‘vaping’ are, as of yet, unknown.

For manufacturers, standards include: a maximum refill container size of 10 millilitres; cartridges or ‘tanks’ may only house up to a maximum of 2 millilitres in the chamber; the strength of any ‘e-liquid’ is subject to a restriction of 20 milligrams maximum. Inevitably, this will have a knock on effect for consumers, especially in terms of market price: the restrictions will preclude previous bulk buys of e-liquid and so consumers will lose out on economy there, but the reduction of refill quantities may also mean the market price of such products are likely to rise with increased manufacturing complications. Some restrictions are yet to be defined and so have the potential to pose a rather serious threat to manufacturers if interpreted strictly: paragraph 39 of the 2014/40/EU states ‘Only electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine doses at consistent levels should be allowed to be placed on the market under this Directive.’ Criticisms levelled at this requirement include what exactly is consistent as technically the dose is determined by how long, often and harshly the user ‘vapes’. Furthermore, the requirement for ‘consistent dosage’ is one that the industry has never faced before, and its effects are only being felt by electronic cigarettes in the directive.

Once the directive comes into force, there is still potential for an EU wide blanket ban should 3 or more member states prohibit the product, although as the research currently indicates no immediate health threats, this is an unlikely occurrence. Furthermore, certain electronic cigarette products have been granted a licence by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to be used under the NHS as a medicinal aid to stop smoking which is indicative, at least, of the UK’s stance on the devices.

In reality, the main consequences of this new directive will be increased costs associated with manufacture and marketing of devices and liquids that will inevitably be reflected to consumers; a reduction in the ability to customise your devices – the selection of flavours will be dramatically reduced initially as companies must notify of all chemical compounds in their products and e-liquid will be reduced in size and strength – from 24mg to 20, although it’s foreseeable that companies will deliver refills below the 20mg ceiling just to be safe.

Photo credit: Vaping360

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