Since their introduction to the European Union and United Kingdom in 2005, e-cigarettes and other vapourising devices have grown exponentially in popularity. They brought attention to a new frontier of legislation, regulation, and marketing; this in turn created a slew of issues for consumers, vendors, and lawmakers to contend with.
The issues arose when lawmakers attempted to categorise e-cigarettes as smoking or tobacco products, despite the fact that e-cigs do not contain tobacco nor do they produce any smoke whatsoever. Thus began a long debate on the most obvious, and most important, question: How do lawmakers regulate a market that has no precedent? And how would they reach a conclusion before the market developed too quickly to regulate sufficiently?
There are some common misconceptions surrounding EU and UK law as it relates to e-cigarettes and more advanced vapourisers. Some criticise the laws for hindering new vapouising start-ups; however, the laws are simply a safety measure.
Vapourisers are a not necessarily a smoking product, but they are a product they mimicks the act of smoking. Because of this, there is a growing concern that they will encourage underage non-smokers to begin smoking and pick up a nicotine habit.
It is not secret that e-liquids come in many flavours that appeal to a younger crowd. Much of the proposed legislation and the regulations that are in place today came into being over these concerns. For example, vapourising devices cannot be sold to minors and it is required your devices are child-proof.
2001-2006: The TPD
In 2001, the Tobacco Products Directive was put into place. At this time, it was a measure taken against tobacco and smoking products in an effort to cut down on the number of active smokers within the borders of the European Union.
Under the TPD, many regulations were placed on cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other smoking or tobacco paraphernalia. For example, the TPD of 2001 places restrictions on the maximum tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide output of cigarettes. It also radically altered the packaging of cigarettes, making it necessary to cover a large percentage of packaging with health and safety warnings. It also made it necessary to submit lists of ingredients used in the manufacturing of these tobacco products to the Member States.
The implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive preceded the introduction of electronic cigarettes into the EU and UK market.
In fact, it wasn’t until 2003 that a pharmacist by the name of Hon Lik, from China, invented the modern e-cigarette. He developed the product in order to help himself find a better alternative to analogue cigarettes and ultimately quit the smoking habit. In 2003, Hon Lik files a patent for his product, and in 2004 the product went global.
In 2005, four years after the TPD, electronic cigarettes were introduced to the European market and lawmakers were presented with the difficult task of regulated an unprecedented market.
It was in this year that it was decided e-cigarettes ought to be classified as a tobacco-related product. This was after much debate without and within the vaping community.
Categorising vaping products and accessories as smoking related products was explained through the “gateway effect.” This means that they mimic the action of smoking and could therefore encourage people to move from e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes; therefore, though they do not contain tobacco or produce smoke, they are considered in the same family as analogue cigarettes.
Because of their new categorisation, e-cigarettes and vapourisers are to be regulated under the same legislation as traditional cigarettes. The TPD therefore added article 20, which imposes some e-cigarette regulations that would change many aspects of the vaping market.
The regulations put forth in the TPD regarding vapourisers were not meant to take place until May 20, 2016.
The year between the implementation of the TPD e-cigarette laws and May of 2016 was so that companies could sell their remaining product; however, as of May 20, 2016 companies will have to submit a notification of any new products they wish to put on the market.
This law creates some issues in itself. The vapourising market, as it stands, is a market of innovation. There is always something new and exciting coming out and keeping consumers interested: new tanks, better batteries, better e-liquids, and more. With the notification requirement, the introduction of new products will be slow.
This late in 2016, all of the TPD regulations are now fully in place. However, it will be some time before the full effects are felt and there is plenty of controversy surrounding Article 20 within the EU vaping community.
The Regulations of E-Cigs by the TPD
So, what regulations has the TPD put on vapourising?
The first regulation on e-cigarette and vapourising accessories under the TPD is the limit of e-liquid sales. E-liquids are to be sold in containers no larger than 10 mL—in either e-cigs or cartridges. Moreover, cartridges and tanks cannot exceed a volume of 2 mL. This clearly poses many issues for people who frequently use refillable tanks or cartridges, since 10 mL of e-liquid is not much to someone who vapes frequently throughout the day. The limitations on tank size is also an issue, since many vape pens, vape mods, and box mods, are sold with tanks already over the 2 mL limit.
The next regulation concerns nicotine content in e-liquid and e-cigarettes. The nicotine content in an e-liquid or e-cigarette cannot exceed 2%, or 20 mg/mL. This regulation was put in place to ensure that people who vape do not consume more nicotine than they would by smoking. For people who vapourise throughout the day, it is recommended to purchase low nicotine content e-liquids. However, for heavy smokers turning to e-cigs, this nicotine limit can be an issue. Some heavy smokers often purchase a 3.6% or more nicotine content, so this limitation will necessarily mean consumption of more liquid and a higher cost of vaping.
Next, and this concerns more advanced vapourisers in particular, the states of the European Union must ensure that electronic cigarettes and containers are child-, tamper-, breakage-, and leakage-proof. This was put in place to ensure that children do not get ahold of these devices and consume the liquid inside. The issue with this part of Article 20 is that it is very vague. No device on the market can declare itself breakage-proof and absolutely no refillable tank on the market is leakage-proof. Under this legislation, advanced vapourisers could be banned entirely. If this were the case, only cig-a-likes would be left on the market.
There are, of course, many more regulations pertaining to the advertising and packaging of e-cigarettes, but these three topics in Article 20 will be affecting the sale and use of e-cigs and vapourisers the most for consumers.
E-Cigarettes Discussed Today in the EU
There is still a lot of debate over the institution of Article 20, which puts many stipulations on the sale of vapourisers and e-cigarettes within the European Union. Advocates of vapourising as an alternative to traditional smoking say the TPD regulations are hindering the growth of a healthy vaping market.
However, proponents of Article 20 would argue they these regulations are necessary to create a safe and thriving e-cigarette market. They would argue that e-cigarettes are a gateway to traditional cigarettes, so these regulations will stop young people from choosing to smoke if they do not already.
Proponents of Article 20 would also argue that they are a necessary measure in the face of unknown health risks associated with vapourisers—since not many studies have been conducted regarding the long-term health effects of vaping as opposed to smoking.
In the coming years, these laws regarding vapourising—especially in the wake of ‘Brexit’—are sure to undergo a few changes before they are set in stone.
Check out the top electronic cigarettes brands in UK.