EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD): The Effect on E-Cig Sellers

April 03, 2017 5 min read

EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD):  The Effect on E-Cig Sellers

EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD): The Effect on E-Cig Sellers

By Tatyana Dyachenko

If you're a vaper who has been living under a rock and are not familiar with the TPD, perhaps have not heard the term before -- it's part of the Tobacco Products Directive (Article 20). Originally created to better limit the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes have also been added to the poorly written and crafted Article 20.

In the ensuing panic, multiple rumors have been circulating, as to how the new regulations will affect e-cigarette sellers with many, if not most of them being just plain out and out wrong. So here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the effects of the new rules on e-cigarette sellers:

Are e-cigarettes now medicalized?

The answer to this one is a resounding no. Due to the unwavering efforts of devoted vaping activists, the EU's ill-conceived attempt to medicalize e-cigarettes met with defeat.

Companies still have the choice to go for a medical license or not, but this is not a requirement of the new law. Besides which, the costs are far beyond the ability of small to medium sized companies to pay, and even larger companies find them intimidating, with only BAT managing to have a medical e-cigarette up until this time.

I'm an e-cigarette retailer, will my shop require any type of Special License or Insurance under the TPD?

No license is or will be needed to continue to sell e-cigarettes or e-Liquid. Still in all, it is highly recommended that you have insurance to protect yourself, and only purchase your product from s uppers who carry product liability insurance

Naturally product knowledge is needed, but would I or my staff require any extra training in order to continue to sell e-cigarettes?

The answer to this is no, same as for the above questions. However, this means exactly what was stated. You will not require any additionalproduct knowledge or training. But, if you are selling e-cigarettes, then you should have a decent knowledge of General Products Safety Regulations (2005). Be extra cautious when it comes to obeying age restriction guidelines. Failing to do so, even accidentally, could result in a ban on selling nicotine. Furthermore, it's a plus for you to have a strong knowledge of battery safety information.

Can we still sell imported liquids and what is the future of that endeavor?

In the beginning it was generally believed that e-liquid must now be made with EU or USA pharma grade nicotine. So far that hasn't been discussed in UK government legislation, and stores are looking into clarification.

E-liquids will, however, be required to undergo testing, which also means emissions testing, with a submission being made 6 months in advance of any sales being permitted. This could very well result in a gigantic slow down in the rate of innovation.

Since March 2017 there have been a lot of compliant e-liquids entering the market from the USA. The TPD will lead to even more consolidation in the e-liquid market, with bigger, more sustainable e-liquids leading the pack.

The new regulations stipulate 2ml cartridge, does that include Refill/Rebuildable/Dripper Tanks?

Regretfully this is so, at least in the UK. There was one government document which at first seemed to imply that tanks would be excluded, however, the restriction on tanks was made plain in the 2015 ECig Summit. It's still uncertain to what extent parts for rebuildable clearomisers will be affected.

By the way, this view isn't universal. In France, for example, the rules have been interpreted as only applying to single use e-cigarettes and disposable cartridges.

As a retailer, am I required to carry out testing and turn in notifications?

The burden regarding testing and submissions sits squarely on the shoulders of the manufacturer and the importer. If you are importing the devices, you will definitely be required to conduct the tests and to turn in notifications. Take into consideration that submissions should be made 6 months before the product is sold. Since the expense of both testing and notification can be quite costly, this is not apt to be practical for smaller retailers, in particular those carrying a diverse range of stock.

So to sum it up in a nutshell, if you are not importing or manufacturing, you will not have to carry out tests or turn in notifications about products.

Am I going to have to pay a fee in order to sell e-cigarettes?

The MHRA charges manufacturers and importers fees to cover the cost of receiving and reviewing submissions.

What will happen in regards to batteries, variable voltage and wattage devices and box mods?

Batteries and mods will remain unaffected by the new laws. But some will be rendered useless as appropriate tanks will not be available

(When sub-ohming with new, TPD compliant tanks, the ape is great, but it involves frequent refilling!)

What about clearomisers and rebuildable devices?

All tanks/clearomisers will need to have emissions testing done. Manufacturers and importers will be required to submit them to the MHRA 6 months before selling them.

There is also a new requirement that says refilling must be leak free.

Present standards for leak free refilling are actually quite simple. So to check if a container has leaked, all you need to do is wipe the container and see if any liquid can be found on the outside.

In the case of e-liquids, they are required to have a 1cm long nozzle, and emit no more than 20 drops of refill liquid per minute when placed vertically as a docking mechanism.

Is their any certain signage that must be displayed in the store from May 20th, 2017?

No. However, you should be warned that you are presently required to comply with age restriction guidelines, which includes a rule that you must display age posters.

How long do we have to implement the TPD?

Providing you have submitted notifications for existing products, you can continue to sell them as usual until May 20, 2017. After May 20th, 2017, vamping products will have to be compliant with the EU TPD, and have been notified 6 months prior to marketing.

I've heard only Tobacco flavors can be sold, and there will be no more "flavors".

It is true that countries have the option to ban flavors other than tobacco. But, so far, the UK has chosen not to do so.

What further restrictions will be placed on e-liquid under the TPD?

Well, glass bottles will most likely no longer be practical. E-liquid will be limited to 10ml bottles, and 2% will be the maximum strength allowed. E-liquid must also carry a warning that nicotine is highly addictive, and come with an information leaflet.

How will we advertise?

Henceforth, advertising will be so severely restricted as to be almost impossible, although once again the UK has opted for a very minimalist approach to implementing the TPD.

What's allowed:
  • online tutorials and informationtrade magazines
  • trade magazinesleaflets/posters
  • leaflets/posters
  • trade shows
  • billboards
What's not permitted:
  • tv/ radio advertising
  • newspapers/magazines/periodicals
  • product placement
  • 'cold' marketing emails
  • social media marketing (except for tutorials, blog posts, etc., which are permitted)
  • online promotions

Certain media outlets have made it their police that the restrictions only apply to e-cigarettes -- not to ape shops. Beware, that the restrictions do include a ban on advertising that leads to direct or indirect promotion of electronic cigarettes or refill containers.

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