What’s Brexit Got To Do With It?
At the moment vaping in the United Kingdom is influenced by legislation from the European Union. Specifically the EU Tobacco Products Directive, or TPD, which covers a variety of issues including the manufacture, sale and advertising of vaping products.
So, how will the process of Brexit affect vaping and the vaping industry in this country?
Like many of the changes that might occur, the effect on vaping is difficult to predict. But we do know what the current EU TPD legislation covers and what the United Kingdom government have said they will focus on when reviewing vaping laws after leaving the EU.
With the opportunity to change how vaping is controlled and with a focus on promoting health, hopefully this means that the vaping industry in the United Kingdom will be able to grow. If the government uses this chance to focus on the health benefits of vaping, like helping people quit smoking for good, the United Kingdom could end up at the forefront of global public health.
The TPD And TRPR
The vaping industry in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations of 2016, also known as the TRPR. These regulations implement the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive, or TPD which control the manufacture, sale and advertising of vaping products across the European Union.
As a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom has been obligated to follow the TPD when deciding its own vaping laws. Now that the United Kingdom is under the process of leaving the European Union this is going to change.
What the TPD controls
The TPD legislation controls a wide variety of things including tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars as well as vaping equipment and e-liquids. Focusing on the vaping industry, we’re mostly interested in how the TPD regulates nicotine content, tank sizes and advertising.
Limiting nicotine content in e-liquids is perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the TPD. Under the European Union’s directives, e-liquids are limited to a maximum nicotine strength of 20mg. Previously 24mg was a common strength used by smokers who turned to vaping to help them give up cigarettes and sometimes higher levels were preferred by heavy smokers trying to quit.
When the current version of the TPD was released in 2014, many were worried that the limits to nicotine content in e-liquids would make it more difficult for smokers trying to quit.
Limiting tank sizes in vaping equipment is the most noticeable change that the TPD introduced. The maximum tank capacity was reduced to 2ml, meaning that tanks needed to be refilled more often and outlawing the larger, high performance tanks that were common before the legislation came into effect.
Vaping advertising restrictions were put in place by the TPD along with warning labels on e-liquid packaging. These restrictions treat vaping as if it was the same as smoking tobacco despite all the evidence showing that vaping is significantly healthier and proven to help smokers quit for good.
The TPD legislation has received heavy criticism since it was introduced as many fear the new laws make vaping less accessible for smokers who want to give up tobacco. The limitation on nicotine levels also makes it harder for heavy smokers to use vaping to quit as they need a higher level of nicotine to satisfy their cravings.
With the opportunity to review the United Kingdom’s TRPR laws without the influence of the TPD, hopefully new regulations will make things easier for people who want to quit smoking. And perhaps the revised TRPR will be based more closely on the growing evidence in support of vaping as a way to help smokers quit for good.
The Future Of The TRPR
The government has agreed to review vaping legislation after Brexit and campaigners want this review to happen as soon as possible.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt has stated that the government are “already committed to looking closely at the legislation on tobacco control, including on e-cigarettes, to make sure we take opportunities to improve outcomes and protect health.”
At the moment it looks likely that vaping laws in the United Kingdom will change after Brexit. Many vapers have their own opinions on what would be best for the future and the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) which represents the vaping industry in the United Kingdom, have expressed their hopes for changes in vaping legislation.
Gillian Golden of the IBVTA has pointed out that the United Kingdom is the world’s second largest market for vape products and in terms of local commerce, vape shops are one of the few growth sectors. The United Kingdom independent vape industry has a worldwide reputation for quality and innovation.
Medical organisation in the United Kingdom support the evidence that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and proven to increase the chances of smokers quitting for good. With more support and awareness of the benefits of vaping, updating vaping laws is an opportunity for the United Kingdom to become a world leader in vaping, stimulating the economy and encouraging more smokers to give up cigarettes.
The IBVTA and many others in the vaping industry regard some of the TPD restrictions to be arbitrary and not in keeping with the evidence about vaping. The worry is that these restrictions are making it harder for smokers to quit and hopefully this is something the government will focus on when reviewing the TRPR.
After Brexit Is Gone
While it’s difficult to know exactly how vaping laws in the United Kingdom will change after Brexit, it is encouraging that the government has committed to reviewing the TPTP legislation.
Restrictions in nicotine levels and tank sizes as well as advertising and warning labels are some of the main concerns within the vaping industry. These TPD rules make it harder for smokers trying to use vaping to quit and treat vaping as if it was the same as smoking despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Hopefully the United Kingdom will use this opportunity to update vaping laws to reflect the evidence and medical organisations supporting vaping as a way to help smokers quit for good.