Will EU’s Tobacco Products Directive kill European vaping?

Vaping rights is a battle being fought in nearly every nation on the planet, but the Europe’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) threatens vapers and retailers in some 28 countries simultaneously.  This insidious new anti-vaping legislation creeps into the picture on May 20, but the negative ripple effects won’t be felt by the European vaping community for quite some time. 

The tentacles of TPD Article 20 will eventually reach into nearly every aspect of vaping, including advertising, bottle sizes, and even the amounts of new flavors of e-liquids being released on the market. 

What is the Tobacco Products Directive?

The TPD is a set of governing rules that gets updated every ten years.  The EU works in combination with Europe’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to create, implement, and enforce legislation regarding the “manufacture, presentation, and sale of tobacco and related products.”  In 2014, the newly revised TPD Article 20 re-classified e-cigs and vaping devices as tobacco, anti-vaping legislation that is strikingly similar to the controversial Bill SXB2-5 of California. But European version goes several steps further.

  • After May 20, 2015, advertisements promoting e-cigs and vaping products are banned throughout Europe, just like traditional tobacco products. This includes TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and most especially social media and email advertising.
  • All new tanks placed on the market after May 20 must meet certain TPD requirements, including proper notification by the MHRA and a capacity of 2ml or less.
  • Tanks currently on the market on May 20 have until November 19 to obtain the MHRA notification.
  • After May 20, all vaping devices must provide a consistent delivery method of the nicotine, which means no variable mods.
  • After November 19, MRHA notification is required 6-months in advance.
  • After May 20, e-liquids can only contain a maximum strength of 20mg of nicotine.
  • E-liquids with nicotine can only be sold in bottles of 10ml or less.
  • E-liquids with nicotine must have a leak free 1cm nozzle and can only emit 30 drops per minute or less.
  • E-liquids must meet certain testing requirements by the MHRA, which will be rather costly and reduce the rate at which distributors release new e-liquids on the market.
  • Nicotine must be EU/US Pharma Grade only.
  • E-juices that do not contain nicotine are exempt.
  • Individual countries can place additional restrictions on top of the TPD regulations.

The Grandfather Clause

11 of the 28 European nations have adopted a special grandfather clause to lessen the severity of the new regulations on vapers, retailers, wholesalers, and distributors.  For the below 11 countries, anything on the shelves come November 19, 2016 can still be sold to consumers until May 20, 2017. 

  1. UK
  2. Finland
  3. Germany
  4. Hungary
  5. Italy
  6. Latvia
  7. Lithuania
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Poland
  10. Portugal
  11. Spain

So, even though the new Tobacco Products Directive takes effect on May 20, just six short weeks from now, the European vaping community may not even notice for several months.  For the vapers in the 11 states with the grandfather clause, it may take an entire year before they start feeling the pinch.  For us silly Americans on this side of the pond?  What’s going on abroad may be heading our way sooner than we think. 

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