If you haven’t heard about Brexit and you live in the UK there's a good chance that you’ve been living under a rock. It’s all over the internet, the media talk about it constantly and it comes up in conversation regularly everywhere else. We’re not interested in a pro-Brexit or anti-Brexit debate, we’re more interested in what vaping after Brexit will look like.
Vaping after Brexit could very well look different and that is down to Article 20 of the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) legislation being up for discussion. This piece of legislation, which came into effect on 20th May 2017 has been far from popular and with good reason.
The TPD is a set of legally binding rules that govern tobacco products. At some point, someone decided that it would be a good idea to add e liquids and e cigarettes into the mix, which is bizarre given that our one pound e liquids, indeed all e liquids are not tobacco based, are nothing like tobacco cigarettes and shouldn’t be classified this way. Adding e juice to the TPD legislation caused a lot of upset amongst manufacturers and retailers and had an effect on vapers too.
Key TPD Points Concerning E Liquid
Here are just a few ways in which these “new” rules impacted vaping when they came out and still do.
As part of the TPD restrictions, the maximum amount of nicotine in e liquid was capped at 20mg/ml or 2% whereas you could previously buy e liquids with higher strengths of nicotine. This was something of a blow for heavy vapers especially who, having been heavy smokers previously, were used to a certain amount of nicotine. Yes, nicotine is known to have addictive properties however in this instance nicotine also alters how an e liquid flavour tastes and it affects the harshness of the throat hit (which is a pleasurable feeling at the back of the throat).
There are ways around this if you are canny about it, for example, choosing short fill e liquids and customising the nicotine strength by adding your own. It was quite a blow at the time though.
Bottle Size Reduction
All new bottles of e liquid after the TPD regulation came in were limited to containing only 10ml of e liquid each. While this is fine for the majority, again, heavy vapers found that they were going through more and more bottles as they were filling up more often (see the next point for why). While the cost of all the extra bottles mostly seems to have been covered by manufacturers and retailers, many were concerned about the environmental aspect too.
Tank Size Restriction
As well as reducing e liquid bottle sizes, the TPD put a restriction on e cigarette tank sizes. This means that when you buy a new tank now, they hold a maximum of 2mg of e liquid. Again, this is fine for your average vaper (sorry, not average, we know you’re all awesome), but it presented an issue for heavy vapers who found themselves having to refill more often.
Many are still trying to work out why this was deemed a necessary step!
On top of the previous, manufacturers are now required to put a lot more information on their labels. Of course, with e liquid bottles now being so small because the TPD capped the size on the contents, it became very difficult to fit everything on some bottles. This meant that bottles that previously were sold as-is now have to come in a box with all of the required information on. More packaging!
E Liquid Testing
The TPD requires strict e liquid testing which has caused a delay in some new products coming to the market. Of course, safety and quality are important and checks should be encouraged however these specific processes are far from streamlined or fit for purpose.
Moving Forward: Vaping After Brexit
While these changes were an absolute pain for some when they first came out and people found ways to adapt/ legally work around them (like using shortfills), many would still like to see the TPD Article 20 rules to be looked at again in the new light of vaping after Brexit. Being EU legislation there is every chance that they will be reviewed and they should be, whether we leave or not! They simply are not necessary, helpful and vaping should certainly not come under any of the same legislation that smoking does. They really are nothing alike.
Here at EliquidUK we hope to see these regulations reviewed, and with the benefits of vaping in mind. Public Health England is actively lobbying the government in order to support vaping as their research shows that not only is vaping at least 95% less harmful than smoking, it is also an effective cessation tool, helping smokers successfully quit their harmful habit by switching to vaping. This has been shown to be particularly effective for those who have tried to give up smoking previously but who have struggled. Switching to vaping offers a valid alternative that is enjoyable and healthier. For this reason, PHE are also pushing for e cigarettes to be recognised as official medical devices for the purpose of cessation so that they may be given out via prescription instead of other nicotine replacement items.
It’s safe to say that PHE would be happy to see a change in TPD rules, given that they add restrictions where they are unnecessary, especially given more recent research regarding vaping safety. What the UK after Brexit will look like is anyone’s guess however if vaping after Brexit includes a shake up and a relaxation of TPD rules many will be happy to support that.