May 2016 is the deadline day for the implementation of the spurious book of rules thrown down by the EU in Brussels. But what does it hold in store for vapers the industry alike?
The origins of the Tobacco Products Directive
In 2005 the EU decided to formally harmonise the distribution and marketing of tobacco products. This led to an 8 year study on how each member nation manages the sales, taxation and promotion of all retailed tobacco products. Reports from health bodies, government departments and industry professionals were compiled, analysed and concluded on. The result was a large dossier that had a considerable weight of information the EU could set a legislative framework around. A primary objective of the EU is to ensure all products traded within the member bloc meet the same standards and are distributed in the same manner; to avoid creating areas of anti-competitive standards within the Eurozone. In 2013 it was established that the new market of electronic cigarettes and other non tobacco 'tobacco related products' should be brought under this banner too. Unlike their product rivals, electronic cigarettes and vaping was given far less study time and drew on much flimsier information to create laws and rules around. The ecig aspect of the TPD took information from tobacco firms who manufacture their own electronic cigarette products and was inherently out of date by the time pen hit the paper to sign off on the directive. Sadly we are now facing an ambiguous document that will rule the industry which finally comes into force in its entirety in May 2016.
What are the rules around electronic cigarettes in the TPD
- Tanks which are refillable, must be leak proof and sealed
- Tanks must not contain more than 2ml of eliquid*
- Nicotine strengths must not exceed 20mg per bottle
- Eliquid must not be sold in volumes of more than 10ml
- Ecig devices must maintain a fixed level of nicotine delivery
- Prohibition on advertising
Understanding why the rules are a mess
*3. Member States shall ensure that:
a) 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
f) electronic cigarettes deliver the nicotine doses at consistent levels under normal conditions of use;
g) 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.
3.a) Dictates a maximum refill bottle size of 10ml. Fine, consumers will buy 3 of these to get their 30ml cloud chasing juice for example. The lack of any ruling around quantity of purchased bottles, means this does nothing to inhibit nicotine availability and everything to do with hurting the consumer with no bulk buy discounting and the environment with more wastage. Its a rule that can be got around easily but the environment won't appreciate such a increase in disposed plastics. Cheers EU
3.a) Indicates that tanks cannot exceed 2ml. This ruling does not make clear if its a pre filled cartridge and tank set up, OR if it is distinguishing between pre-filled cartridges and refillable tanks. It leaves the term refillable tanks out of the statement and therefore creates an enormous lack of clarity in which type of tanks are affected. The danger here is the implementation team in the UK will side on Team Caution and just blanket ban all 2ml tanks. So, what about those that already own 2ml + tanks? What about the easy accessibility of pyrex tubing that can be cut to size in the UK and used to extend a tank? Does the TPD ban consumers freedom of experimentation and home DIY skills? An enormous mess here in this section alone.
3.f) This section discusses the sale of devices with a maintained level of dosage and delivery. The 'dosage' relates to nicotine levels, and I am yet to see a device which increases the amount of nicotine mg through battery power alone. This may see a ban on variable voltage or variable wattage devices where the implementation team cannot determine whether these devices alter dosage. This also ignores the fact that variable wattage devices allow the user to adjust the power up and down dependant on battery power levels to 'maintain vape delivery'. One may adversely argue, that variable power devices completely meet this standard and non variable devices fail it.
3.g) Speaks of ecigs that are child and tamper proof as well as being able to be refilled without leaking. Button locks are certainly a way to ensure tamper and child proofing; but do these meet the required standard? No information is available on this yet. As for the tanks that are refillable, I am yet to see a tank that offers a child proof standard. Perhaps the Joyetech Egrip could be said to meet the leak free refill requirement, but where a user refills a tank and through their own negligence is able to tip the tank upside down - does this fail the test? What are the benchmarks for this directive? The information is not available, and as such makes for a highly spurious and easily misunderstood book of clumsy rules.
The industry's professionals embrace regulation and the introduction of quality control standards, what it cannot embrace is a set of rules that are more draconian than cigarettes. Cigarettes are not tamper proof, nor are they child proof. Why is it that the proven killer has an easier ride in this directive than that which has shown to yield nothing but positives so far. While the timeline for understanding the impacts of ecigs is not near a threshold of full data; leading INDEPENDENT professionals in the medical industry have declared vaping as 'magnitudes safer' than electronic cigarettes. It is with a sense of optimism alone therefore, that we hope the speed with which technological advances have been witnessed in our industry thus far; will ensure that smart 'workarounds' hit the marketplace in time for us all to avoid switching back to fags. While many are working their way down the nicotine tree and kicking the habit for good; it would be a tragedy if others still smoking cigarettes are denied the access to a quality cessation device so they too can end their addiction. We have always said, we hope one day our customers stop shopping with us for the right reason; we would love to be a part of something that keeps joe public living longer. Then, when the dust has settled, we at Vape and Juice, can look back and say, we did something good.
If you want to quit smoking, or find out about electronic cigarettes and vaping, pop in to one of our vape shops in London, Enfield; Canterbury, Kent; Clacton, Colchester, Southend and Southchurch, Essex. Try it for free and make the choice yourself.
Quit smoking, start vaping.