May 20th 2016 is an important day for vapers. It’s the date that the Tobacco Products Directive (or TPD) comes into force across Europe.
The TPD is the set of laws for e-cigarettes and e-liquids which are made – or imported to – the European Union (EU). Many vapers fear the TPD will affect their enjoyment of e-cigs. So, are they right to be scared?
Why are the new laws coming into place?
The TPD came about to assure product safety and quality. Every EU country will have to comply with new regulations on manufacturing and the supply of e-cigarettes and e-liquids.
The TPD will leave some decisions – such as regulating flavours, advertising and age limits – up to each country to decide. But all EU governments must implement TPD laws by May 20th 2016.
So, how will the TPD affect you?
There are three main areas which the TPD will affect vapers. The new laws will bring:
- improved safety and quality with controls on e-liquids and hardware
- better product information on packaging and labelling
- protection against poor quality or dangerous products
Let’s look at each area in more detail.
Improved safety and quality
To limit the risks of nicotine, the TPD will set a maximum nicotine concentration level for e-liquids, and a maximum size for refills, tanks and cartridges. So:
- e-liquid refills must not exceed 10ml
- disposable e-cigs, single-use cartridges or tanks must not exceed 2ml
- e-liquids can’t contain over 20mg nicotine per ml
(so you get a similar dose to a standard cigarette)
- e-liquids must be made from high purity ingredients
- flavourings and other ingredients used must not pose a health risk
Under the TPD, e-cigs must deliver nicotine at consistent levels under normal use. That means a similar level of nicotine with every puff on an e-cig for the same amount of time, with the same strength. This will stop people accidentally consuming a high dose of nicotine. And poor quality products giving an inconsistent nicotine hit.
Packaging must be child-proof and show it has not been opened. And it’s up to manufacturers to prevent e-cigs from breaking and leaking when refilling.
Better product information
As well as ‘keep out of reach of children’ messages, new e-cig packs must have:
- a leaflet with instructions on how to use and store e-cigs
- warnings for risk groups and side-effects, addictiveness and toxicity
- a list of all ingredients, nicotine content and delivery per dose, and product batch number
- a statutory health warning
Protection from poor quality products
To protect against poor quality products, manufacturers and importers will have to provide information about their e-cigarettes and e-liquids before they reach the market. This will include:
- details about the manufacturer, ingredients used and emissions
- info on nicotine delivery and uptake
- details about the product and production process
Manufacturers must take full responsibility for the quality and safety of their product under normal use. This declaration will be made public for all to see.
If manufacturers believe a product is unsafe, poor quality or doesn’t comply with the TPD, they’ll have to act immediately to fix, withdraw or recall it. They’ll also have to inform authorities about any health/safety risks, what they did to stop the situation and prove it worked.
If a national authority, such as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, believes an e-cig product is unsafe, they’ll have the power to stop the supply of the product and recall it. If at least three EU countries agree, that could be a European-wide ban.
What happens next?
From 20th November 2016, any product that enters the UK market for the first time must comply with the TPD. From May 20th 2017, brands cannot sell a product in Britain unless it complies.
What are your thoughts on the TPD? Leave your comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them.