E-cigarettes have been one of the major growth categories for wholesalers in the last few years but up to now have been largely unregulated. That’s about to change with the revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). If you sell e-cigarettes, you need to be fully informed. James Dunworth, Director of E-Cigarette Direct, spoke to Wholesale Manager.
James, what is the TPD? When does it come into effect?
The Tobacco Products Directive primarily controls cigarettes but has been revised to cover other nicotinecontaining products such as ecigarettes.
The revised TPD comes into effect on 20th May this year.
How long will wholesalers and their customers have to implement TPD?
You can continue to sell existing vaping products until October 20th. After May 20th new vaping products will have to be compliant with the EU TPD and have been notified to the MHRA six months prior to going on sale.
Are e-cigarettes going to be offered as medicines?
The EU’s attempt to ‘medicalise’ e-cigs was defeated after public debate. While suppliers have the option to go for a medical licence, this is not mandatory.
Does the TPD change the law about who can buy e-cigarettes and vaping products?
Retailers already need to comply with the existing age restrictions, which include a requirement to display the age limit at the point of sale.
Wholesalers need to be aware of these guidelines so they can advise their retail customers.
What is going to happen about imported liquids – can wholesalers still sell them and retailers stock them?
E-Liquids now have to be made with EU or USA pharma grade nicotine. At present this excludes Chinese manufacturers, and until recently we have not seen any making efforts to comply.
In addition, e-liquids will need to undergo testing, including emissions testing.
As a wholesaler, do I need to carry out testing and submit notifications?
The onus for testing and submissions for e-cigarettes falls on the manufacturer or the importer. If you are importing these devices directly in the UK, you will need to conduct the tests and submit notifications to the MHRA.
If you are not importing or manufacturing them yourself, you will not have to conduct tests or notify the MHRA.
Can wholesalers and retailers still sell flavoured vaping products? Individual countries have the option to ban vaping flavours other than tobacco. However, the UK has chosen not to take these options.
Will wholesalers need a Special Licence or Insurance under the TPD?
No. However, we recommend they have insurance, and buy from suppliers who have product liability insurance.
Do wholesalers need special training under TPD to sell vaping products?
Wholesalers do not need any additional product knowledge or training. However, they should know about the General Products Safety Regulations (2005.)
What other restrictions will there be on e-liquid?
Glass bottles will no longer be allowed. E-liquid will be restricted to 10ml bottles, and cannot contain more than 20mg of nicotine per ml.
Will e-cigarette advertising be banned?
Under TPD advertising will be severely restricted, although the UK has taken a very minimalist approach to implementing this.
Advertising of e-cigarettes in media such as billboards and posters in shops is outside the scope of the Directive. This means that national rules can be made. The Scottish Parliament has the power to decide for itself but there are no current plans about billboards in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
What do you think of the new legislation?
We believe it’s very poor law. It was so badly conceived that the scientists quoted by the commission wrote en masse that their studies had been misinterpreted.
Fortunately the UK government has been very understanding about all this. As a result, we are likely to have one of the most liberal interpretations of the TPD in the EU.
Where does this leave ecigarettes?
While the restrictions will increase costs and choice, and reduce the pace of innovation, it’s not the end of British vaping by any means.