Thu 7 Jul 2016
So the EU referendum is over. Politics is falling apart, the media is predicting the end of the world as we know it and ordinary folks are simply going about their business as they did before.
If you’ve been living on the sun or deep underground for the past week or so and you don’t know the result, here it is: We voted to leave.
Apparently, leaving the European Union means a lot of changes for us all. For the vaping industry and community, the vote spells the end of the hugely controversial and contentious TPD regulations. Or does it?
If you’re unfamiliar with the TPD, here it is in a nutshell: TPD stands for the Tobacco Products Directive. It is a body of legislation governing the sale and production of plant products. As vapers, we are particularly interested in article 20 of the regulations, this is the bit about e-cigarettes. The headlines are that tanks will be limited to 2ml, nicotine will be limited to 20mg and e liquid will need to go through rigorous testing before being allowed on sale, inevitably pushing up the price. The TPD came into effect on the 20th of May this year, and all relevant products must be compliant by May of next year. For more details, you can check out our TPD information page.
The TPD is almost universally hated by vapers and e-cigarette companies. It’s costly, heavy handed and works in favour of big pharma and big plant. Not to mention that the EU now considers your e-cigarette to be a plant product, opening the door to future tax increases.
So does our vote to leave mean that the TPD will be scrapped in the UK? Well, that depends.
What will happen in the coming months is that the UK Prime Minister will have to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, informing the European Union of our intentions to leave. This starts the stopwatch on a two year period in which the UK and the EU will attempt to work out a deal for an amicable split. Within these two years all directives, including the TPD, will be discussed.
If a deal cannot be reached within these two years, the EU can vote to increase the time period for negotiations but only if all 27 member states agree.
When the TPD does come around to be discussed, it’s very hard to speculate on what may happen. However, there are some encouraging signs. It’s likely that the Conservative government will still be in power and they have previously described their attitude to e-cigarettes as ‘luke warm’. Also, when the EU voted on whether or not to implement the TPD in member states, the majority of Conservative MEPs voted against it, this is in contrast to Labour MEPs who were largely in favor of the regulations. Finally, the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, both of which are based in the UK, have published studies claiming that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than traditional plant cigarettes.
On the other hand, there is still a real chance that the TPD could be sticking around. If the UK government wants to maintain full access to the single market, which is almost certain, then the UK may have to comply with all current directives and regulations, which would include the TPD. Also, in negotiations that include stuff like defence, healthcare and immigration, it’s possible that e-cigarette regulations will be overlooked and not given a great deal of time or consideration.
One scenario that will definitely kill off the TPD is if the two year negotiation period runs out without a deal being done, and member states do not agree on an extension. If this were to happen, all EU directives currently imposed within the UK would no longer apply.
So the the future of the TPD is about as clear as mud. All we can do is hope for the best and encourage our elected representatives to support any efforts to abolish the regulations and be on the right side of history.
If you have any questions about the TPD and vaping regulations, feel free to get in touch at [email protected]