On the 20th May 2016 the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations implemented TPD2 (Tobacco Products Directive). This regulation set out the requirements for nicotine containing e-cigarettes and refill containers (e-liquids). There has been a transitional period of 12 months where manufacturers and retailers can prepare for the regualtion to come in to full effect (See timeline below).
Realistically, the vape industry had to be regulated at some stage, in order to protect consumers from bad vape products, as well as e-liquids containing substances that could potentially cause harm. The TPD legislation does do this, unfortunately it also goes beyond just consumer protection and restricts products at a level that makes it difficult and confusing to sell e-cigarettes. Thus leaving many consumers falsely dissilusioned as to wether they should be taking the proven 95% safer alternative to smoking.
With this said there is little gained from kicking and screaming, lets look at the positives and hope that we can achieve a sensible, unbiased approach on any future regulation.
So what do the new TPD rules enforce?
- A minimum standard for the safety and quality of e-cigarettes and e-liquids.
- The availability of information for the customer so that they can make an informed decision.
- Fostering an environment that looks to discourage children from starting to use these products.
20th May 2016
- Advertisement of vape related products is illegal.
- Sales to other EU countries are prohibited without necessary registration.
Non-compliant stock can still be manufactured, bought and sold.
- Most retailers will still be selling non-compliant products as usual, so consumers will be largely unaffected. However, some small producers will close down as they realise that TPD compliance is not viable.
20th November 2016
- Reatailers have six months to clear their shelves of non-compliant stock
New non-compliant stock cannot be manufactured, purchased or sold.
20th May 2017
It is now illegal to sell any non-compliant product. Only products tested and MHRA notified up to six months earlier can be sold with correct CLP (Classification, Labelling & Packaging).
- With the sell through period coming to an end on 19th May 2017, failure to meet these requirements has consequences for retailers and producers.
With the sell through period coming to an end on 19th May 2017, failure to meet these requirements has consequences for retailers and producers.
As a retailer, you do not need to submit information for any products you sell.
Unless you qualify as a producer.
You have until 19th May 2017 to sell any stock of products that do not comply with the labelling and product composition requirements of the TPD. After this date, it is your responsibility to ensure any new products you purchase are compliant with the TPD. The MHRA will publish a link to a web page where you can check for all products which are compliant.
The regulations define a producer as:
“Anyone who manufactures or imports these products or who re-brands any product as their own.”
If you are a producer, you are required to submit information about your products to the MHRA through the EU-CEG (European Common Entry Gate) notification portal.
The MHRA has uploaded the first products which have been submitted. However, they are keen to stress they have not checked each notification for completeness or that these products are TPD compliant.
What about the Consumer?
There will inevitably be some changes to the products we see in stores, initially there will be less available, as retailers sell off existing non compliant stock and convert to compliant stock. Some liquids will also cease to exist on the market as manufacturers decide whether to proceed with testing and compliance.
E liquid will only be available in 10ml bottles moving forward, with a maximum strength of 20mg (realistically, manufacturers aren’t likely to produce liquids over 18mg, to allow some margin for error). E liquid with no nicotine (0mg) does not need to be tested and is unaffected by the TPD. So we may see an increase in 0mg lines where nicotine can be added 'optionally'.
Only tanks with a capacity of 2ml and below will be available. Tanks must also be ‘leak proof' at the point of refilling’ and deliver a 'consistent dose of nicotine'. Thankfully, the TPD has focused on the e liquid bottle, rather than the tank, when defining what ‘leak proof' refilling’ means. New tanks designed to fill via a small hole that the nozzle of an e liquid bottle fits snugly into should be suffice.
Manufacturers are just starting to release these ‘top-hole’ tanks that should satisfy the TPD’s criteria. At the moment they are only addressing the higher end sub-ohm type market. However, over the coming months we are confident that we will see a diverse range of tanks available. On the ‘consistent dose of nicotine’ issue, it looks as if there will be some lenience in interpretation. As long as the tanks deliver a reasonably consistent nicotine dose in lab conditions (which sidesteps unquantifiable, real-world variables, such as how hard or long a user inhales), they will be fine.
As far as we can see, batteries , mods and RDA's sold 'without a tank' should be unaffected by the TPD. This is because they are not capable, in isolation, of vapourising e liquid. However, if a battery and tank are sold together as a kit, the whole kit would need to be compliant.
After May 20th we will likely see a lot 'TPD compliant' kits as well as new versions of the tanks we know already, adapted (Probably reduced capacity, with an “optional glass”) in order to be compliant at the point of sale.