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What is the Tobacco Products Directive and How Will it Affect E Cigarettes

The Tobacco Products Directive of 2014 is replacing the 2010 Directive which formally governed many aspects of smoking regulations. In particular the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will be responsible for overseeing the manufacturing, sale and presentation (product design, packaging etc) of all tobacco products and any accessories or related products.

As well including traditional manufactured tobacco cigarettes, roll your own cigarettes and tobacco products, pipe tobacco, cigars, smokeless tobacco products and any herbal products that have been designed with smoking in mind, the TPD will also now govern the electronic cigarette market.

This list, while certainly not exhaustive gives an indication of what the TDP has power over in terms of the smoking industry, both tobacco and e cigarette related markets:

•The TDP requires pictures and text depicting health warnings associated with smoking to be placed on the front and the rear of all tobacco products. What's more these warnings must cover a minimum of 65% of the total packaging therefore takes over the majority of the design / branding capability of the manufacturer.
•The TDP bans tobacco cigarettes and tobacco used for rolling your own cigarettes from having what it determines as "characterising flavours".
•In order to meet TDP regulations all manufacturers of roll-your-own tobacco, cigarettes and associated products must submit detailed and specific ingredient lists. This information with need to be resubmitted in the event of any slight changes to ingredients prior to products going on sale.
•In order to ensure that health warnings may be clearly seen and read the TDP not only sets minimum size specifications in relations to the product packaging, they also restrict tobacco packaging from being below what they consider a suitable size. This is to ensure that people will not buy small packages which meet the 65% minimum surface space for health warnings yet are so small that they do not notice them or take as much notice given that thy are much harder to read / see details.
•The TPD dictates that manufacturers of "novelty tobacco products" notify the TDP, including offering their full ingredient lists and their quantities before they may sold within the EU.
•The TDP allows EU Member Countries / States to choose to prohibit online sales of tobacco and associated products.
•The TDP are responsible for banning what they consider to be "promotional and misleading" advertising, design work, claims etc on any tobacco related products.

This list covers the majority of the main points and clearly shows that the TDP intends to reign over the tobacco and e cigarette markets within the EU with an iron rod.

E Cigarettes and the TDP:


Article 20 of the TDP deals primarily with the electronic cigarette industry. Not only are the points contained within more prohibitive in many ways than those imposed on tobacco products, many are concerned that they have been put together without a true understanding of the electronic cigarette and its benefits. Indeed some are concerned that the restrictions put in place could perhaps not only be born of ignorance but also maliciousness, or at the very least an overenthusiastic and somewhat blinkered approach to an industry which many link with the falling number of tobacco cigarette smokers.

The full documentation in question, including the much discussed Article 20 may be found here (scroll to page 25 to find the beginning of Article 20). While a number of the points are the same as the tobacco related regulations above, when used against the very different e cigarette industry they are at best restrictive.

Many legal objections have been filed regarding the Article 20 contents by e cigarette manufacturers, retailers and those who champion the industry, all quoting severe concerns about the impact these strict regulations with have on the business and how necessary many of the points actually are.

For example, e cigarette manufacturers will be required to submit any and all ingredient lists to the Commission before they will be allowed to sell these within the EU. They must follow the process the same way for any changes to ingredients, regardless of how minor. For e liquid manufacturers this is a blow given that it stalls the product of new flavours and flavour and quality improvements.

Many are also concerned that the delay between sourcing new products and receiving the go ahead to proceed with selling within the EU may damage their businesses past the point of recovery, particularly for those running smaller e cigarette and e liquid enterprises. Current guidance from the TPD indicates that products  intended for sale must be sent to the commission six months  prior to being them being made available to consumers.

Additional regulations regarding volumes (nicotine containing liquids may not be sold in containers that hold more than 10ml in total) and the wealth of information, including leaflets which must be provided with e cigarettes and associated products will both have a detrimental impact on businesses. The benefit to the consumer of many of these steps is dubious at best.

Many are concerned that e cigarettes and their associated products have been tarred with the same brush as tobacco cigarettes. the difference being that tobacco related products have been proven over a long periods of time to be dangerous, with WHO classifying many of the substances and by-products of tobacco smoking as being toxic and/or cancer-causing in nature.
While the jury is still out for many on e cigarettes the data from numerous dedicated and independently run studies concludes that e smoking is by far the cleaner choice, even if WHO will not yet classify them as the healthier option.

The regulations do not give credit to e smoking for the downfall in the numbers smoking proven harmful tobacco products and little concern has been shown for the huge impact these regulations could have on e cigarette and e liquid businesses. Indeed in their own FAQ information the European Commission responds to the concern that these changes will cripple small businesses with the reassurance that such business will be given time to sell of their existing stock (etc) that will not be appropriate for sale after the deadline. Many see this an a further indication that the Eu and TDP have a vague at best understanding of the industry.

The Future?

Once again legal challenges have been made and e cigarette bodies are lobbying the EU and their own governments in order to encourage an overhaul of the TPC regulations, in particular Article 20. While e cigarette manufacturers and retailers are happy to work within the confines of the law and suitable regulations the restrictions they are facing do not seem to benefit anyone. If anything they appear to have been designed (some believe) in an overzealous manner in order to damage and even destroy parts of the e cigarette market.