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The EU negotiations on the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) have concluded with an unsatisfactory fudge. Miss-information and confusion initially reigned with different parties to the negotiations emphasising different aspects of their ‘successes’. It is in the nature of all negotiations that everybody leaves feeling that they have won, even if time proves them wrong.

Chris Davies MEP

Our LibDem MEP’s have been doing sterling work in the EU Parliament with regard to the ecig paragraphs within the TPD but in the end they could only argue what regulation on ecigs was appropriate instead of questioning if ecigs should be included within the TPD at all.

Chris Davies MEP has been a great communicator and his article ‘MEPs win victory for e-cigs’ puts a pleasingly positive spin on the outcome. There is yet some scrutiny of the TPD to come as is made clear by Clive Bates in his piece ‘National parliaments must have their say on the tobacco products directive’ but it seems probable that the agreement reached on the 16th will stand.

Main Points

Cartomisers, clearomisers and tanks (basically everything refillable) will face restriction on their e-liquid holding capacity and individual designs may be banned in the future. In the LibDem post ‘Medicinal regulation avoided but fight for ecigs not over yet’ it is explained thus “Refillable units, which are widely used at present, will continue to be available. They will however be subject to a safeguard clause meaning that Member States can introduce stringent national measures including a prohibition against concerned products – if justified by evidence of a serious risk to public health. If refillable e-cigarettes have been prohibited in at least three Member States, the Commission would be able to extend the ban to all Member States through a delegated act but that could be blocked by a majority in the European Parliament.

The EU have decided not to impose regulation on e-liquid flavours but the door has been left open for National Governments within the EU to introduce their own restrictions rather than being specified by EU legislation.

E-liquid manufactures will be forced to declare the ingredients that they use and will be restricted to selling bottles of e-liquid that contain no more than 10ml. An increased requirement to include further warnings and information will also be introduced.

There will be a 2% (20mg) limit on the strength of e-liquid that can be sold.

Strict advertising bans along the line of those currently enforced on tobacco products will also be enacted.

Real World Effects

None of these measures that the EU is going to impose puts any restrictions on what our Government can add – for example, they are still free to introduce medical licencing requirements on ecigs should they wish to do so. As we are now nearing the end of the current Parliamentary term it is at least a fair possibility that our current Government will have other priorities before the next election to be able to find time to bring in further primary legislation.

The controls on refillable cartridges could become a problem if the regulations are overzealously enforced by several member states and even if they are not we will still see the prohibition of many excellent pieces of vaping gear. It is ironic that this is proposed at the same time as there being so many great new clearomisers bought to market, like the Evod and the Aspire.

Although flavours of e-liquids can be banned by the Governments of individual EU member states we can at least take some comfort in the fact that the EU guarantees cross-border sales, so if a flavour is banned in the UK it can still be purchased from another EU country without interference if it has not been banned there.

For many vapers the restriction on the e-liquid bottle size to 10ml may not be seen as too much of a problem, especially given that the 10ml e-liquid bottle is quickly being established as the norm – the vapers that will really be upset by this is the DIY e-liquid mixers, amongst whom are some of the more vocal opponents of e-cig regulation.

The 20mg e-liquid limit will not inconvenience too many current vapers because the most popular nicotine strengths sold are 20mg or lower anyway – However if you consider those taking up vaping as an alternative to smoking, then it is a different story. When I swapped fags for ecigs I started on 36mg e-liquid, it is possible that the lower limit will make the transition to vaping that much harder.

The DIY e-liquid mixers will also not be happy with this nicotine concentration limit. To put it simply, 10ml maximum volume of 20mg e-liquid will force the DIY’ers to abandon their mixing or obtain their nicotine base from outside the EU.

Shafted by the EU?

We are being assured that this EU agreement is a good deal for vapers because it is better than the original EU Commission’s proposal. That is a bit like saying that you should be happy that you are only having your hand amputated because it was going to be your whole arm – without there being any justification to do any amputating at all.

E-cigs should never have been included in the TPD in the first place – Ecigs are not a Novel Tobacco Product as they are described in the TPD, they do not contain tobacco!

We should not feel grateful for the few crumbs of concession extracted from the EU, e-cigs are a revolutionary product that deserves to be promoted in order to save lives, it should not be facing these upcoming restrictions.

Civil Disobedience

There is still much fighting to do in order to maintain our freedom to vape. It is a little too early yet to know what the next steps in the campaign will be, I expect a general consensus of opinion to form shortly.

Personally I will strongly support any reasonable action undertaken to avoid over regulation of ecigs. If the EU or our Government’s actions force me back onto tobacco cigarettes I hereby pledge that at least one of those fags every day will be smoked by me somewhere that they are prohibited – Civil Disobedience.

The views expressed herein are my own and are not necessarily those held by ECigWizard