Questions and answers guide to what you need to know
As you may know, the EU TPD (Article20) was actually designed for cigarettes. But E-cigs have also been included in the set of rules, which means that E-cig retailers are going to have to learn a few things about how the TPD operates and what it means for them.
Granted, there is a lot of information going around about this legislation, and a lot of people are confused by it.
But in this guide, we are going to attempt to answer some of the most common and important questions with clear, straight-forward answers.
Hopefully this will help to clear up some of the misinformation and give you a better idea as to what the language in the TPD actually means for E-cig users and retailers.
Is the TPD going to end the E-cig industry in the UK?
In a word, no. The TPD has been pretty universally hailed as a terrible piece of legislation. Maybe the ideas come from the right place, but pretty much everyone agrees that it simply makes things too difficult without solving the real problems.
Thankfully, however, Parliament has shown a lot of support for e-cigs, and one government minister has even gone as far as to say that the enforcement of the TPD on the UK side of things will be more ‘Italian’ than traditionally British. In other words, the UK government is probably going to interpret Article 20 more liberally than most countries.
So don’t be discouraged! The TPD might be a pain, but it will not spell the end of the E-cig industry in the UK.
Are there going to be restrictions on advertising?
Yes. According to the TPD, here are a few of the methods that are allowed, as far as advertising for E-cigs is concerned…
- Trade magazines
- Trade shows
- Online information and tutorials
As far as mainstream advertising goes, however, many of the most popular mediums have seen heavy restriction when it comes to E-cigs. TV and radio advertising, product placement, newspaper/magazine adverts, and even social media marketing have all been disallowed. ‘Online Promotions’ have also been ruled out.
Obviously, there are still a lot of ways to advertise – and some have pointed out that the restrictions really only apply to vaping devices, not vape shops. Still, the restrictions call for bans on advertising that lead to either the direct or indirect promotion of E-cigs or refill containers – so the line is a little bit blurry in the case of Vape shops.
For example, some people are wondering if blogs and vlogs will still be able to share information about E-cigs without it technically being called an advertisement… and while this is a blurry line, there is still some black and white area that can help to act as a guide in cases such as this.
Attention! The cap.org.uk website has posted a lot of information on this topic, which you can find here: https://www.cap.org.uk/Advice-Training-on-the-rules/Advice-Online-Database/Video-blogs-Scenarios.aspx#.V5lHb4-cHIW.
If you have advertising questions about E-cigs and need clarification about the rules, then you should certainly visit this page and do some research. It should provide you with what you need to clear up the majority of your questions.
Obviously, advertising rules (as explained by the UK Advertising Codes) are in place to help agencies and media owners to understand what is and isn’t allowed. These mostly include general rules pertaining to being responsible and not misleading the public; but they also cover more specific information, such as advertisements geared toward children, and sectors that deal with specific industries like motoring, gambling, alcohol, financial products, etc.
Attention! For a broader look at UK advertising codes, you should visit this page on the cap.ork.uk site: https://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes.aspx?gclid=Cj0KEQjwzZe8BRDguN3cmOr4_dgBEiQAijjVFgaiR3iXQgNkDcAJFYax1Po-ecs85hcV2FBbkqgyXE0aAmOU8P8HAQ.
There are obviously some more focused regulations in the actual verbiage of the TPD as well. For example, an E-cig cannot be said to be less harmful than other E-cigs, cannot be advertised as having healing, vitalizing, rejuvenating, natural, or organic properties, and cannot be advertised as having other health or lifestyle benefits.
Other examples include some of the more focused restrictions on packaging. Packaging cannot, for example, contain elements that suggest ‘economic advantage’, including vouchers for discounts, distribution, two-for-one sales, or other similar types of offers.
Are fruity or specialty flavors going to be banned?
No. countries have the option to ban non-tobacco flavors, but the UK has chosen not to accept these options. It does say in the TPD verbiage that nicotine-containing liquid must not contain ‘any additive referred to in regulation 16’, so there is a specific list of ingredients that cannot be added to E-liquid produced in the UK.
Attention! For a list of all of these ingredients, you can visit this link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/507/regulation/16/made.
Some of these ingredients include caffeine, taurine, vitamins that could create the impression of a health benefit, and/or colouring effects.
Are the sizes of refill containers being regulated?
Yes. Here is what the official regulations have to say on the subject…
Nicotine-containing E-liquid that’s presented for retail sale must be in a refill container in a volume not exceeding 10ml. It can also be sold in a disposable E-cig, in a single-use cartridge, or in a tank where the volume does not exceed 2ml.
The capacity of the tank of a refillable E-cig must not exceed 2ml either – which certainly seems to put a damper on some of the larger tank capacities that have become popular as of late.
Has nicotine strength been regulated?
Yes. 2% is now the maximum strength allowed.
How long will it take for the TPD to be implemented after May 20th, 2016?
October 20th is the first major deadline. At this point, if you submit notifications for existing products, you may continue to sell them until the following 20th of May (2017), at which point all products sold will need to be compliant with the rules of the TPD.
Will I need to put up any sort of sign or display any sort of ‘TPD Compliant’ poster?
No. The signs that you are already required to put up for your business should suffice. You are already required to show age posters so that you can comply with age-restriction guidelines, so no further steps are necessary on this front.
Are there going to be any new fees to pay for retailers who sell E-cigs?
The MHRA is going to charge fees to help cover the costs of reviewing submissions. There was recently a consultation on exactly what the fees should be, and the amounts are as follows… there will be a notification fee of £150, an annual fee of £60, and a substantial modification fee of £80.
These will only affect you, however, if you are an importer or a manufacturer.
What types of vaping products are going to be affected by the legislation?
Here’s a brief rundown of what types of products are going to be affected by the TPD.
Batteries and mods: These products will not be affected by the legislation at all.
Tanks and Clearomizers: These products will need to undergo an emissions test. It will be the responsibility of the importer or manufacturer to submit new tanks/clearomizers for testing, and they need to be submitted 6 months before they can be sold. They will also need to meet a requirement for being ‘leak free’, which is surprisingly simple.
Refill Containers: Refill containers actually have quite a few rules to abide by now. According to the official regulations, they must be child-resistant, tamper evident, and protected against breakage or leakage (which is why glass bottles probably won’t be available after the deadline). There are also a few rules for how the bottle must work in conjunction with the E-cig to refill it. These rules basically help to protect from leakage, and consist of the following.
A refill container must possess a securely attached nozzle that is at least 9mm long, which is narrower than the slots in the E-cig, and possess a flow control mechanism that allows no more than 20 drops of E-liquid per minute to flow through it (there are some more technical specs, but they get pretty specific).
Or, refill containers can also be made legal by means of a docking system, in which the E-cig can be refilled and the E-liquid dispensed only if the E-cig and the refill container are ‘connected’.
As you can see, there are quite a few rules to follow – but thankfully, they’re not necessarily impossible to comply with. The TPD has made things a bit more complicated – but not so much that compliance won’t be possible. With a bit of critical thinking, the UK E-cig industry will no-doubt come up with some brilliant methods to comply without falling short of the guidelines.
Do retailers need to test or submit notifications for products?
No. These are steps that manufacturers and importers will be responsible to carry out. If you are a retailer that is also importing E-cig products, then yes – these responsibilities would fall to you – but other than that, retailers don’t need to worry about testing or notifications.
Can retailers in the UK still sell imported E-liquids?
According to regulations, E-liquids must now be made with EU or USA pharma-grade nicotine – which excludes most
Chinese manufacturers. E-liquids will also need to go through the appropriate emissions testing, and will need to be submitted 6 months before they will be able to be sold on the market.
Will E-cig retailers need to provide any additional training to their staff?
Aside from general product knowledge and whatever training will be necessary to follow the General Products Safety Regulations (2005), you probably won’t need to worry much about extra training. You will, of course, need to continue to follow age restrictions for the sale of nicotine products – but for the most part, everything that you’ll be required to do on a retail basis has already been practiced in the UK for quite some time now.
Will my vape shop need a special license under the TPD to continue to operate?
No. You won’t need a special license (beyond what you already need for doing business in the UK) to sell E-cigs or E-liquid under the new regulations.
Are all E-cigs required to be medicalized?
This is a bit of a myth. Thankfully, the EU’s attempt to medicalize all E-cigs was defeated – though companies do have the option to go for a medical license if they wish to.
Where can I find all of the E-cig regulations that I need to know
Attention! The best place to find this information is here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/507/contents/made.
This is the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 page of the Legislation.gov.uk website, and it will tell you everything that you need to know about E-cig regulation in terms of the UK and laws that specifically need to be followed by those selling, producing, and importing E-cigs within it. Granted, not all of these laws are going to apply to E-cigs – but you should be able to find pretty much everything you need by going through it.
Admittedly, importers, producers, and manufacturers are going to be responsible for complying with most of these rules. By the time E-cig products reach retail stores, they will have already gone through many of the hoops required to be sold in the UK (unless the retailer is also importing the products – in which case some of these responsibilities will fall to them).
The TPD is understandably complicated in some ways – but don’t let it daunt you. The truth is that it’s going to be very liberally enforced in the UK. You honestly have quite a bit of breathing room. If you’re a retailer, rest assured that the market isn’t going to fail because of the new regulations. Granted, they are going to make a few things more complicated, but the E-cig industry is going to remain prosperous and strong in the face of the new rules.
Attention! For more information or to clarify exactly what is changing and how, we would encourage you to visit this site: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/507/contents/made.
It’ll provide you with all of the formal language from the new regulations, and will allow you to thoroughly research and read the specifics for yourself. This can do a lot to help clear up small details that might be difficult to find in broader or more generalized content.