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UK TPD Regulations

UK government TPD regulations website

The EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)

All vaping products sold in the UK must be compliant with the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). This came into force in May 2016. The new regulations angered many vapers and manufacturers. The TPD prompted fears that the variety of flavours on offer would be seriously reduced. Some people thought that it represented a significant step towards banning vaping altogether.

If you are a vaper living in the UK or the EU, the TPD impacts you every day. But despite the understandable concerns about the regulations, the TPD hasn’t killed vaping and has even offered significant benefits.

How does the TPD affect your vaping experience?

What is the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)?

The Tobacco Products Directive 2014/14/EU (TPD), became law 20th May 2016. Retailers and manufacturers benefitted from a transition period of one year. They were able to release devices and eliquids for sale which were not compliant with the regulations until 20 November 2016. After that time, all products which retailers wished to continue to sell after 20 May 2017 were subject to testing and had to be notified to the regulatory body of the country concerned. By 20 May 2017, all products sold to consumers had to be fully compliant with the TPD.

Why were vaping products covered by the TPD?

Vaping products were included as they may contain nicotine or be designed to deliver nicotine, much of which is derived from tobacco leaves.

What regulations did the TPD introduce?

As you would expect, the Tobacco Products Directive  is a complex piece of legislation. Much of it does not impact vaping hardware or e liquids. If you can’t muster the enthusiasm to read the legislation in its entirety, here’s a summary of the regulations relating to vaping:

 

  • Child resistant and tamper proof packaging is required for both liquids and vaping devices
  • Producers must notify the appropriate regulatory body of the ingredients in e liquids, the components in devices and the refilling mechanisms of devices
  • Devices must be protected against breakage and leakage.
  • It must be possible to refill devices without leakage
  • Devices must deliver a consistent dose of nicotine per puff
  • The capacity of tanks, pods and cartridges must be no more than 2ml
  • E liquids containing nicotine must be sold in volumes of 10ml or less
  • The nicotine strengths of e liquids must not exceed 20mg/ml

 

What is the bad news for vapers?

There was considerable concern that the TPD would result in a reduction in the number of flavours on offer. This could have left a bad taste in vapers’ mouths – literally! It was feared that the cost of getting e liquids approved might result in manufacturers limiting their ranges. There was always the possibility that the smaller producers would find the new regulations too burdensome and simply go out of business. 

When the TPD came into force, there were initially signs that eliquid ranges would contracted. However, vapers’ worse fears never came to pass. Most producers of e liquids have thrived in recent years. Better still, new ranges and flavours have continued to be introduced.

Vapers were not happy about being restricted to buying their e liquids in tiny 10ml bottles. But the manufacturers quickly sidestepped this problem by introducing short fills. As the new rules only applied to vape juice containing nicotine, the solution was to offer nicotine-free e liquids in bottles which afforded room for vapers to add the nicotine themselves. 

There’s no doubt that the limit on the size of vape tanks and pods has proved to be a serious inconvenience. Manufacturers were forced to redesign the hardware they offered, and vapers have found themselves topping up more often. However, expansion glass is now available for some vape tanks, increasing their capacity to as much as 7ml.

What is the good news for vapers?

While the TPD raised fears of a vaping apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it failed to materialise. The new regulations did deliver a few minor inconveniences. But there have also been some major benefits for vapers which should not be overlooked.

Manufacturers have improved the designs of their hardware in order to comply with the need for leak-free refilling. The requirement for child-proof packaging has certainly reduced the chances of youngsters accidentally ingesting e liquids which has to be a good thing.

It is undoubtedly the testing of e liquids and the reporting of their ingredients which has proved to be the biggest boon for vapers in the EU. The protections offered by the TPD have kept EU vapers safe from a condition called E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use Associated Lung Injury (Evali). This has been big news in the USA where many vapers have died as a result of vaping toxic eliquids.

What about Brexit?

The United Kingdom has now left the European Union. The UK vaping industry has been regulated by the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), which is the UK’s implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive. Under the EU exit agreement, the UK will have the power to amend the regulations relating to vaping in this country. The government has stated on several occasions that it intends to review the regulations. 

There are unlikely to be any changes in the near future, but new vaping legislation is on the horizon. Both the government and Public Health England view vaping as a safer alternative to smoking. It is entirely possible that some of the more irksome and frankly pointless aspects of the TPD such as the limit on tank size will be removed from any new legislation in the UK. 

Vaping remains the fastest growing industry in the UK. The TPD has not limited vapers’ choices and has played a role in promoting innovation. While 2ml tanks are annoying and there really isn’t a good reason to restrict e liquids to 10ml bottles, the testing of e liquids is keeping vapers safe. It’s hard to argue that child-proof packaging isn’t a step forward and manufacturers have continued to deliver exciting new flavours and devices. 

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