What is the TPD?
In just over a week, electronic cigarettes will be included in the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD). The TPD is an EU directive from Brussels which governs the production and sale of tobacco products. The decision to put electronic cigarettes in this directive was made in 2012 (the UK MEP accidentally signed off the TPD for the UK thinking that e-cigs had been removed!!).
This will become UK law on 20th May much to the disappointment and anger of many MPs as it flies in the face of a recent report from the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England who deemed that electronic cigarettes were AT LEAST 95% safer than smoking traditional cigarette products and should be as widely publicised as possible.
The major changes for our customers will be:
A maximum 10ml bottle of e-liquid
A maximum strength of 1.8%/18mg nicotine
A maximum 2ml tank size
Most advertising banned (other than instore or on our website)
A ban on discount codes & special offers
A reduction in the amount of products available
No more sales within the EU to other EU Member States (see why below)
OK, so what ARE the costs involved in continuing to supply quality products?
Although the cost of notification to the MHRA may appear minimal at first glance at £160 per product, the testing protocols required in order to submit notifications runs into the tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds depending on the amount of products and variants.
Since we started trading in 2008 we have regularly tested our liquids for known “problem” compounds and nicotine concentrations to ensure we are providing our customers with the highest possible quality products.
The TPD now requires that ALL compounds are identified, listed and ultimately categorised for toxicity by means of a toxicology report. Any one e-liquid flavour can contain many compounds and with a cost of identifying a single compound between £2000 to £3000 you can see how the price adds up. The second test is for emissions which identifies and lists all compounds within an e-liquid at a cost of between £500 – £1000. This means that keeping your favourite e-liquid on the shelves will cost the producer upwards of £30,000
So where does this leave electronic cigarette companies?
This means that those that are able will conform to the Directive although this will inevitably impact their bottom line and therefore increase the cost of their products to their customers.
Unfortunately for those that can’t it will mean closing their doors or moving underground into the black market which no good for the industry or the consumer.
In or Out of the EU?
We as a company, would definitely vote OUT of the EU because it has never had any benefit to SMEs. It is geared towards large corporations and multinationals.
Furthermore this legislation opens the door to blackmarket activities in as much as customers may find the products they want overseas that are no longer available within the Union and import them, themselves.
A customer accidentally (or purposefully) purchasing 100% nicotine and not knowing what they are doing with it puts them directly in harm’s way.
A single drop of 100% nicotine will kill instantly. Leave the mixing and preparation of e-liquid to the professionals and don’t be tempted into buying cheap imports!
What can be done to avert or minimise the impact of the TPD?
In short, not much (unless we leave the EU) We, the UK, have no choice other than to accept any directives which are passed down from Brussels although some minor tweaking is permitted with each directive to take into account local conditions.
Many Lords & MPs are currently lobbying to have electronic cigarettes removed from the TPD as it is their belief that electronic cigarettes are not tobacco products and therefore do not belong in the Tobacco Directive (we agree). Their bid to have it removed is highly unlikely due to our agreement as an EU Member State requiring that we conform to whatever Brussels deems fit.
We can only hope that the most damaging parts of the directive (disproportionate health warnings, limited advertising, over complicated testing protocols and size & strength limitations) will be removed or changed to become less damaging to the health of our nation.
You can see the Lords Grand Committee Debating these points here:
What about other EU member states?
We’re all in the same boat on this one!
We have many customers within the European Union which have been with us for the last 8 years, none of whom will be able to purchase our products after 20th May and this is because each of the 28 member states within the EU will require the same convoluted and expensive notification process laid down by the TPD as the MHRA here in the UK.
This makes the cost astronomical and prohibitive in order to sell freely within the EU and effectively closes the market and isolates it to each member state.
To our mind, in this industry, there is no such thing as Free Trade within the EU.
We’re happy to answer any of your questions or queries by phone on 0800 1114753 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org