The Tobacco Products Directive 2016 – what does it mean for e-cigarettes?

As e-cigarettes have got more popular in recent years, it was only a matter of time before the EU introduced certain regulations to maintain the industry.

Though it officially became law on 20 May 2016, many are still unsure exactly what effects the TPD will have on the average vaper. In this article we’ll be examining the advantages and disadvantages of the bill and how it relates to e-cig users.

 

A limit on e-liquid strength

The EU is limiting the concentration of nicotine in e-liquid, believing high-strength liquids could become just as addictive as traditional cigarettes. Vaping campaigners believe this is a bad move as the majority of ex-smokers who move to e-cigarettes often start with higher concentrations and gradually reduce. By limiting the e-liquid strength, the new regulations may affect the user’s ability to abstain from tobacco, increasing the likelihood of a relapse.

 

Leak-free filling mechanism

The Tobacco Products Directive is calling for a universal leak-free filling mechanism to prevent spillage, and accidental ingestion of e-liquid. While this does seem to be a good idea, issues have been raised regarding how this could present a shift towards disposable tanks, atomizers and coils as an all-in-one package, similar to disposable razor heads. This could increase the cost of vaping and is viewed as legislation to increase profits and (by proxy) the taxes levied on them.

 

Ban on advertising

Like cigarettes, e-cig manufacturers are now unable to promote or advertise their products in the media or in sponsorship deals. While e-cigs have been shown to be 95% safer than traditional cigarettes, research is still being carried out to determine exactly what health issues, if any, can be attributed to the use of e-cigs – so the EU is distancing itself from the possibility of marketing.

 

Mandatory warnings

Similar to the style adopted by the tobacco industry, warnings will be added to the packaging of e-liquid to remind people that despite the fact that e-cigs are proven to be safer than cigarettes. Worryingly, the warnings will carry a similar message to those found on tobacco packs – a move that seems unfair considering many of the dangerous chemicals found in tobacco are not present in e-liquid.

 

A six-month standard testing protocol

There will be a standard testing protocol for six months after a product is submitted for the commercial market. If implemented correctly, this could be a great thing for e-cig users, as the TPD would ensure that no dangerous ‘cheap’ imitation products are available for sale throughout Europe. The only issue is that by its own admission, there is no standard testing protocol available, nor is there any evidence of the EU’s ability to develop the protocol. For example, when testing atomizers the EU claims that all atomizers should be tested based on data gathered from tests using the most common atomizer and battery combination – a combination that is markedly different from country to country. Yet the result of these tests will function as a directive for all products in all countries, in spite of their different forms and functions.

 

Certain vapour products to be banned

The Tobacco Products Directive reserves the right for the EU commission to remove certain items from sale if there is evidence proving an associated health risk with the product.

 

Medical regulation

This mandatory regulation could force certain EU countries to register electronic cigarettes as medical devices, potentially creating an insurmountable barrier for those who wish to use an e-cigarette but do not qualify for it. Furthermore, it places too much control in the hands of larger companies who are able to lobby for their products to be used within the medical world, while edging out smaller competitors who offer cheaper, but similarly effective products.

 

Worrying ambiguity

Those who are against the Tobacco Products Directive are more concerned with the ambiguous nature of Article 24 despite the aforementioned issues, which offers countries the right to assert a consummate ban on any e-cig products, as well as impose their own rules regarding packaging and the availability of accessories.

Full details of the TPD 2016 can be found here.

 

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